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Sen. Bernie Sanders joins nurses strike at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is now involved in the continuing nurses' strike at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

News 12 Staff

Oct 27, 2023, 4:57 PM

Updated 238 days ago


Thousands of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital nurses gathered with community members for a rally in New Brunswick following a Senate field hearing led by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
As the nurses’ strike approaches three months, Sanders who is the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, has now got involved.
The field hearing was scheduled to listen to what nurses say is necessary to not only get a contract but provide proper patient care. The focus was as much on what many call a national staffing nursing crisis as it was on what’s happening in New Brunswick.
Nurses from around the state gathered to support those on strike at the hospital. Some described nurses so overwhelmed with patient ratios that they have breakdowns, crying in bathrooms.
Sanders asked how they feel knowing the hospital has been using traveling nurses in their place during the strike.
“They chose to make the travel nurses their priority, which is not right, as well as break our union I believe in the end that is the goal,” one nurse said.
Mark Manigan, the president and CEO at RWJBarnabas Health, declined to take part in Friday’s field hearing but said in part in a statement:
“Our negotiating team at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has met with the union six times since Oct. 6, including this past Sunday, Oct. 22, with the goal of reaching a fair and equitable resolution that provides the highest‐quality patient care and creates a safe and supportive working environment for our nurses. I believe and humbly ask that you understand that is where my focus should be at this time.”
Although Sanders did receive written testimony from Robert Wood executives, he says he’s disappointed they declined to take part Friday.
Sanders added he would love to ask them how they can afford the traveling nurses who are currently working but not afford to mandate the same safe nurse-patient ratios that have been in place in California for nearly 20 years.

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