Nurses at two Hackensack Meridian hospitals get raises

Source: Asbury Park Press
Nurses from Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune and Southern Ocean Medical Center in Stafford will get raises of up to 2.5 percent after ratifying a contract late Wednesday.
The one-year contract also calls for no increase in their share of health insurance premiums and better orientation programs for new nurses, according to their union.
“As nurses we could not walk away from these negotiations without maintaining our rights and our benefits so we can continue to be advocates for our patients and our profession,” said Sally Fessler, president of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees Local 5138 at Southern Ocean Medical Center.
HPAE represents 1,500 nurses at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and Southern Ocean Medical Center. The two hospitals are owned by Edison-based Hackensack Meridian Health.
The nurses had threatened to go on strike as soon as Aug. 10 after negotiations reached a stalemate. The fight likely would sound familiar to employers and workers in lots of industries: Hospitals are facing more demands from insurers to deliver care more efficiently, while their workers are trying to maintain their wages, benefits and staffing levels.
“The hospitals’ and union’s bargaining committee worked hard through nearly 20 sessions since June 21 to reach agreements that will enable the hospitals to continue to deliver safe, high-quality care for patients and provide fair, competitive wages and benefits, safe staffing and a positive work environment for team members,” Hackensack Meridian spokeswoman Mary Jo Layton said in a statement.
The negotiations prompted some patients at the two hospitals to wonder if they should postpone surgeries that were scheduled. But the two sides made progress after bringing in a federal mediator. The union agreed to extend the deadline of its former contract by two days. And they reached an agreement.
The new contract includes a wage increase of up to 2.5 percent, depending on their performance.
During the past year, wages and salaries in the New York metropolitan area increased 3.5 percent and inflation increased 1.8 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Also: Nurses may have to pay more for their health insurance premiums, but their share of the premiums will remain the same at 15 percent. Their out-of-pocket costs will remain the same, according to the union.

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