Nurses at RWJBarnabas Health hospital vote to unionize

Nurses at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, N.J., have voted to join 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.

The vote, which covers about 500 nurses, represents the largest unionization among healthcare workers in New Jersey since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an Aug. 11 union news release.

1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East said about 8 in 10 nurses who voted in the mail-ballot election voted in favor of unionization, with the hope of improving patient care and working conditions.

"I became a nurse because I love taking care of people,"  Tanya Howard, BSN, RN, said in the release. "I love what I do, and it was getting hard to love what I do, especially when working conditions were so horrible during the COVID pandemic. Winning our union, we now have a say in how we’re treated and how our patients are treated. United together, we will fight for the staffing, pay and retirement security we deserve in our first contract.".

Clara Maass President and CEO Mary Ellen Clyne, PhD, MSN, told northjersey.com: "We acknowledge and respect the right of our nursing staff to decide on whether or not union representation is in their best long- and short-term interest.

"We will do everything we can to continue to make the hospital the best possible workplace it can be. Working together, collegially with all of our healthcare professionals, we will continue to advance our healthcare mission across our community." 

Clara Maass is part of West Orange, N.J.-based RWJBarnabas Health. 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East represents more than 450,000 healthcare workers in Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Florida and Washington, D.C. 

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