Health care union workers voted in favor of a new three-year contract at Bayonne Medical Center on June 19 after months of negotiations, protests, and an eventual lockout.
The union previously rejected a BMC proposal that led to a three-day lockout in early June.
BMC ended the lockout after intense political pressure and patient complaints about care in the hospital from temporary workers.
The new proposed contract had been recommended by the union members’ bargaining committee of Local 5185 of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) after renewed negotiations on June 14 resulted in a tentative agreement.
“We are pleased that our employees ratified the terms of the collective bargaining agreement reached with HPAE Local 5185.” – Allyson Miller
In addition to contract issues, the union won the reinstatement of a technician fired during the negotiations.
BMC management also expressed pleasure at the settlement.
“We are pleased that our employees ratified the terms of the collective bargaining agreement reached with HPAE Local 5185,” said Allyson Miller, spokesperson for the hospital. “The modifications achieved in this agreement will permit the hospital to continue to make major investments in the enhancement of programs and services at Bayonne Medical Center, which has been our number one priority since the hospital was purchased out of bankruptcy in December, 2007. With this agreement in hand, the residents of the greater Bayonne community will continue to see the benefits of having a financially strong hospital available to serve their health care needs for many years to come.”
Miller said that the substantial modifications agreed upon in this contract are reductions in vacation and sick time, severance benefits, and pension plan contributions, all of which were reduced to market standards. In addition, overtime is now calculated based on hours worked weekly rather than a daily basis. Employee co-payments for physician office visits under the employee health plan have also been increased to market levels.
“In addition, a number of onerous work rules have been eliminated or modified, which will result in the elimination of inefficiencies in the hospital’s operations,” she said. “These changes result in our employee benefits and work rules being competitive with those in place at other progressive New Jersey hospitals, and allow for higher quality patient care.”
Hospital management seemed dissatisfied in one area of the settlement.
“Unfortunately, the HPAE would not agree to give the hospital the authority to reward our employees for outstanding performance through the provision of bonuses,” Miller said. “We believe that performance bonuses would benefit our staff and everyone who receives care at the hospital, and we will continue to advocate for the right to implement a bonus program. Bayonne Medical Center’s primary focus is caring for the health of our community, and we look forward to working with our medical staff and employees to serve the health care needs of the community for many years to come.”