The registered nurses of New Jersey’ Shore Medical Center in Somers Point took their fight for patient care and a fair contract to the community when they held an informational picket outside the hospital on July 11.
The Shore Medical nurses were heartened by the show of support from the local labor community, including nurses from Cape Regional Medical Center and Southwest Pennsylvania members of the Health Professionals & Allied Employees (HPAE), AFT, joined the picket, as well as members of United Food and Commercial Workers, Sheet Metal Workers, Teachers and Carpenters. Anthony Ciampa, RN at NY-Presbyterian and NYSNA board member, came to lend his voice of support to the nurses. Patients and community leaders showed their support, too, walking side by side with the nurses.
Profit at all-time high
Shore Medical Center is a full-service, acute care community hospital serving Atlantic and Cape May counties in South Jersey. The hospital is not hurting financially; to the contrary, profit is at an all-time high and the hospital is projecting increased revenue. The CEO of Shore Medical has received generous annual salary increases. Yet in the course of negotiations management has attempted to short-change nurses and patients by dictating terms rather than negotiating over key patient care issues.
The hospital is experiencing serious recruitment and retention issues, largely due to understaffing, according to Nancy Burton, RN and co-president of the Shore Nurses Union/NYSNA local bargaining unit. “Management’s proposals affect the hospital’s ability to recruit and retain a skilled nursing workforce, which will in turn have a direct impact on the type of care and safe environment the RNs can provide to our patients.”
Shore management has proposed substantial reductions in pay and benefits, including cuts to accrued time. Other significant issues include lack of accountability to the community and outsourcing.
Departments contracted out
Shore Medical's board and management thus far have refused to include community representatives in discussions about current and future plans of the hospital. Gina Schlachter, RN, Grievance Co-Chairperson, told those gathered at the picket, “Professional RNs are committed to their patients and communities, and Shore Medical’s nurses strongly believe that the community we care for should have a say in how healthcare is delivered at our hometown hospital.” Shore Medical has contracted out many departments to large corporations, forcing long-term employees to re-apply for their jobs at drastically reduced wages and benefits.
NYSNA has filed four Unfair Labor Practice charges related to management non-compliance with information requests and the administration’s prohibition on nurses wearing pins including the U.S. Flag. Nurse Burton urges all to sign the petition (https://actionsprout.io/33C27B/initial) demanding that Shore Medical’s board listen to the community and put patients before profits. “The nurses are united, strong, and willing to fight for safe staffing, exceptional care and a fair contract,” said Ms. Burton. “Taking away from the nurses ultimately takes away from patients, and that is something we just can’t accept!”
Shore Medical Nurse of the Year
Carole Giamberardino, RN, was voted Shore Medical’s “Nurse of the Year” by her co-workers. A nurse at the facility since 1979, Ms. Giamberardino is a founding member of the Shore Nurses Union/NYSNA. She was unable to receive the award the day of informational picket because of illness that required treatment inside the hospital. Still, Ms. Giamberardino joined the picket line in spirit, phoning from her bed at the hospital, while the nurses outside offered a moving tribute to her service to patients and community. Ms. Giamberardino’s husband, Charles, and her father, Andrew Trofa, Sr., were there to accept the award on her behalf.