RWJUH, union for striking nurses reach tentative agreement

Collective bargaining agreement requires ratification by union membership

The nurses strike at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital — which has gone on much longer (nearly four months) and been much nastier than most expected — soon may be coming to an end.

On Friday afternoon, officials from RWJUH and United Steelworkers 4-200, the union representing the nurses, announced they had reached an agreement on terms for a new collective bargaining agreement.

No terms of the agreement were released.

The agreement must be ratified by the members of Local 4-200, which represents approximately 1,700 unionized nurses at RWJUH.

How long it will take for the nurses to become informed about the potential agreement and to vote on it is unclear — it could take days or weeks. Typically, union leaders will have a series of meetings about the potential agreement before taking a vote.

Previous proposals have reached this stage but were not approved by union membership. This Memorandum of Understanding between the hospital and the union is the first since the union went on strike, Aug. 4.

Since then, there seemingly has been little negotiating — and a lot of protesting.

Both sides expressed optimism Friday.

Judy Danella, president of United Steelworkers Local 4-200, said the following in a statement:

“After more than 120 days on the picket lines, we are pleased to announce that USW nurses have reached a historic agreement with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital that includes enforceable safe staffing standards in our collective bargaining agreement for the first time,” she said.

RWJBH, through spokesperson Wendy Gottesgen, said this:

“The resolution reflects our shared goals of providing the highest-quality patient care and creating a safe and supportive working environment for our nurses.

“RWJUH has the utmost respect and appreciation for our nurse colleagues and all they do for our patients, the community and this hospital. We look forward to the outcome of the ratification vote.”