New Jersey hospital workers go on strike

Members of United Steelworkers Local 4-200 went on strike Aug. 4 at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J.

The union represents more than 1,700 nurses at the facility, according to a union news release shared with Becker's. Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital is part of West Orange, N.J.-based RWJBarnabas Health.

Union members voted to authorize a strike in July. Their last contract with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital expired June 30, and the parties then extended it through July 21. 

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital spokesperson Wendy Gottsegen, in a statement shared with Becker's, expressed disappointment about the strike and said the hospital has continued to negotiate in good faith with the union.

"We have remained open to talking with the goal of averting a strike and reaching a fair and equitable resolution," Ms. Gottsegen said.

She added that the hospital "has done everything it could to avert a strike" and has made offers that would have increased pay and staffing. 

"RWJUH is already among the highest staffed hospitals in the state and our nurses are currently the highest paid in New Jersey, based on available public data. Our offers would have increased both," Ms. Gottsegen said. 

Local 4-200 President Judy Danella, RN, said in the union release, "Our members remain deeply committed to our patients. However, we must address urgent concerns, like staffing. We need enough nurses on each shift, on each floor, so we can devote more time to each patient and keep ourselves safe on the job."

Ms. Danella also said the union remains ready to continue bargaining and invited management to join them at the bargaining table.

"Nursing is more than a job for most of us," she added. "It's a mission. Our top priority is negotiating a fair contract so we can return to patient care."

The hospital said it will continue to care for patients without interruption during the strike.

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