RWJUH officials reveal details of offer to nurses’ union, say they are ready for potential strike

Officials from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick said they were “disappointed” to receive official notification of a potential strike from the union that represents its nurses (United Steel Workers Local 4-200) that would occur Aug. 4.

They also appear to be frustrated and confused.

A spokesperson for the hospital said the hospital not only thought it had agreed to a deal with the union (only to have it rejected by the members), but that it has not received a counteroffer from the union.

“We have not received any counteroffer in writing or any credible sense of where the union stands, let alone what they would or could agree to,” they said in a statement.

Hospital officials said they still hope to find a solution before the 10-day mandatory waiting period ends, but that they are prepared should a strike occur.

“We have activated an extensive contingency plan that puts patient care first by hiring a highly qualified replacement nursing workforce for an extended period of time, which could exceed 60 days,” they said. “Hiring replacement nurses for an extended period of time ensures continuity of care. The contingency plan comes a great cost, but it is the right thing to do for our patients.”

The hospital is providing the following details regarding the information from the rejected proposal that was agreed upon by the union July 17 in a Memorandum of Agreement.

• Year 1 wage increase of 7.6% inclusive of the out of cycle increase granted in February. Year 2 and 3 wage increases at 4% per year.

• A first-year full-time nurse would make approximately $97,000, plus ample overtime, night, weekend and call-in enhancements and opportunities. If present trends regarding overtime and the like hold, we would expect the average compensation to exceed approximately $117,000.

• The total year 1 enhancement, when combined with the out of cycle increase and the benefits set forth below, represents an increase of more than 10%.

• Staffing ratio standards with financial guarantees if standards are not met.

• Increases in longevity bonus pay for nurses with 10 or more years of service.

• For the fourth year in a row, no increase in health plan contributions for 2024, and a cap on increases in 2025 and 2026.

• Additional retirement plan contributions.

• Increased uniform allowances and parking subsidies.

• Certain part-time nurses qualify for full-time benefits.

Hospital officials, in their statement, said they hope the two sides can come to an agreement.

“We will continue to negotiate with the union to reach a settlement. It remains our goal to find an equitable resolution as quickly as possible,” they said. “Given the inability of the union to ratify the settlement in the Memorandum of Agreement that they signed with the hospital last week, we hope that they will return with more productive dialog and alignment with their membership.”