More than 1,200 healthcare workers gathered today to conduct a one-day informational picket outside of Hackensack Meridian Health hospitals in Hudson, Monmouth, and Ocean counties. The workers marched down sidewalks and through parking lots, all of them dressed in red and waving union flags. “Safe staffing saves lives!” they shouted, their voices seeming to reverberate off of the massive buildings behind them.
Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest non-profit and most profitable health system, pays its top officers millions of dollars and spends tens of millions more on lobbying and public relations, yet refuses to reach a settlement with its nurses and other health workers for livable wages and safe staffing levels, Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) Union officials said today.
HPAE has been at the bargaining table with the hospital system for several months, yielding no settlement.
“We are fighting for safer patient limits for staff in hospitals and nursing homes, for better healthcare, and for livable wages for workers paid less than $15 an hour,” said HPAE Local 5058 President Kendra McCann, who joined picketers in front of the Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, NJ where she has worked as a registered nurse for 12-plus years.
She added, “We got into nursing because we care, because we love our patients, and because we want to properly take care of them. With staffing limits, we could do that, and we wouldn’t have to pick and choose which patients receive attention.”
Since Hackensack and Meridian hospital systems merged in 2016, publicly available records indicate Hackensack Meridian has spent tens of millions of dollars on advertising, legal expenses, and lobbying efforts. In 2016 alone, the health system spent $26.2 million on advertising and promotions, $7.9 million on legal expenses, and $1.3 million on lobbying.
“This hospital system is quite profitable and certainly not going broke. It prefers to shell out millions to its corporate officers and on its image rather than on livable wages for its healthcare workers and safer staffing levels,” said HPAE President Ann Twomey. “The hospital is spending tens of millions of dollars to promote itself, defend itself, and prevent passage of incredibly important legislation such as a safe staffing bill, but refuses to pay $15 an hour to its service workers who do the dirty work to keep the hospitals and nursing homes clean and hygienically safe.”
According to Twomey, HPAE merely wants the hospital system to bargain in a “good-faith” manner and reach a contract agreement that is “good for patients and fair to healthcare workers.”
Currently, 2,500 nurses and healthcare professionals are working for Hackensack Meridian without a contract. The New Jersey State AFL-CIO urges you to stand up and join in on the fight by calling Hackensack Meridian’s two CEOs—Bob Garrett and John Lloyd—and demanding that they meet the needs of your brothers and sisters.
Bob Garrett @ 848-888-4408
John Lloyd @ 848-888-4416