Union: Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital nurses to strike Aug. 4
Nurses at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital will be going on strike next month, union officials announced. Local 4-200 notified hospital administration that the nurses will strike on Aug. 4 at 7 a.m.
This means that 1,600 nurses will not be tending to their patients on that date. The hospital treats over 30,000 inpatients and has over 70,000 emergency room visits annually.
Nurses were at union headquarters on Monday gearing up and preparing for the picket lines. They were told to focus their picketing activities on areas that give them the most visibility to the public.
The union and hospital have been negotiating a contract since April 10. At one point they had a tentative deal, but it fell through after a rank-and-file vote. The two sides negotiated for seven hours on Sunday, but no deal.
"They feel RWJ could do better. And that's why we went back to the table yesterday, but it was not much offered,” says union president Judy Danello.
Among their demands, nurses want improved staffing ratios, better health insurance, increased pay and less use of part-time nurses - better known as “traveling nurses.”
“Fifty-eight million dollars was spent in a year and a half on travelers. That money could have gone to our members,” Danello says. "There are still 120 travelers there that I don't feel have the commitment I feel our nurses do."
When it comes to staffing ratios, the union would like to see a ratio of one nurse for every five patients as opposed to the current one to six.
Administrators have said Robert Wood nurses are the highest paid in the state, earning between $85,000 and $110,000 a year. The administration has said that a strike "serves no one's best interest, including the nurses themselves nor our patients."
There are no further negotiations set up at this time.