NEWARK, N.J. — The 350 nurses and technicians at St. Michael’s Medical Center here, members of JNESO Council 1 International Union of Operating Engineers, struck May 23 for a decent contract.
“During negotiations, management has demonstrated a lack of willingness to respond to issues such as safety, staffing levels, health insurance and pensions,” Virginia Treacy, negotiator for JNESO, told the press. “They have demanded more than 20 different givebacks.”
“They want to throw us on any floor without regard to training or experience, remove our weekend differential, reduce our wages and all our benefits, which are already lacking,” Margarita Prodon, a nurse with 17 years at the hospital, told the Militant. “They already pay so low that they can’t hire enough nurses.”
“Replacement” nurses from an outside agency have taken the strikers’ jobs.
For-profit California-based Prime Healthcare Services bought the 358-bed hospital out of bankruptcy in 2016, getting $190 million in debt relief from the state. “Solidarity from workers and our unions is crucial to the outcome of this struggle,” said Lea Sherman, SWP candidate for U.S. Congress from New Jersey, when she joined the nurses’ picket May 24.