New Jersey hospital nurses to see historic wage increase, salaries starting at $43 per hour

Nurses at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health-owned hospital in Livingston, N.J., have approved a new contract that includes wage increases.  

The one-year contract covers about 1,400 registered nurses at the hospital, according to a Dec. 2 news release from their union, New Jersey Nurses Union (NJNU-CWA 1091).

Under the new agreement, union members will make at least $43 per hour, the release states. 

The agreement, which also addresses staffing, will expire on Dec. 1, 2023. Union members will be able to bargain contract terms again next year.

"We went above and beyond to sacrifice our own well-being during the pandemic, but we have been dealing with short staffing ever since due to deteriorating working conditions and uncompetitive pay," Shannon Gomes, RN, president of NJNU-CWA 1091, said in the union news release. "Earlier this month, our union members with RWJBarnabas Health in Toms River and Lakewood stood strong in their demands for better wages and conditions and they won a groundbreaking contract because of it. Now, our nurses at Cooperman have done the same."

According to the union, the contract also allows eligible nurses who are working night shifts to receive additional wages during those hours. Additionally, the agreement allows the union's staffing committee to address workloads regularly and directly with hospital leadership.

Michelle Wagner, RN, said in the union news release that nurses are hopeful that these and other contract provisions "will alleviate some of the stress we've been under and show newer nurses that Cooperman is a great place to work."

A Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center spokesperson also spoke positively about the new deal.

"After months of engaging in good faith negotiations, we are pleased that the nursing union has ratified this most generous one-year collective bargaining agreement," the spokesperson said in a statement shared with Becker's. "This agreement, the largest in the organization's history, recognizes the vital role and contributions of our nurses."

The spokesperson also pointed to national awards and recognitions the hospital has received, and said the hospital feels the contract will "further advance our continued efforts to recruit and retain staff during this unprecedented time in the healthcare industry."

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