Shore Medical Center NYSNA members in Southern New Jersey voted by a margin of more than 99 percent in support of ratifying a historic new contract that delivers impressive economic gains and gives the 340 nurses more collective bargaining strength by aligning the agreement’s expiration with those of major New York City NYSNA hospitals and AFT HPAE nurses in New Jersey.
Dorothy Rudert, RN and LBU Co-Chair, said she and her coworkers are ecstatic. “The hospital had sought massive givebacks in health, pension, and pay. All told, they would have cost each nurse between $15,000 and $20,000 over the life of the contract. We stayed united and won a concession-free agreement.”
Her LBU Co-Chair Nancy Burton, RN, added, “The economic gains are substantial. We won annual percentage increases, plus we were successful in unfreezing experience steps which will net most members a 5 to 6 percent pay increase on top of the 2 percent across-the-board increases we’ll see in 2017 and 2018.”
“We fought very hard to protect our pension and health benefits, too. And we won!” said Ms. Rudert. The agreement maintains the nurses’ pension for the duration of the contract and removes the cap on years of service — a considerable victory given that the hospital has frozen pension contributions for the rest of its employees for the next eight years. Nurses’ health benefits will be maintained with no changes, as will 401(k) contributions. As an added bonus, the hospital will offer an early retirement buyout to those at least 58 years of age with 10 years of service.
Shore nurses are glad the long struggle is over. “We had a very tough road to navigate, but our unity prevailed in the end. This contract keeps us at the highest levels of standards for New Jersey nurse union contracts,” said Ms. Burton.