Shore nurses demonstrate need for contract

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Nurses picket Shore Medical Center Saturday, June 9 in protest of stalled contract negotiations.
SOMERS POINT – Nurses voiced their displeasure with contract negotiations as they picketed the hospital Saturday, June 9.
Nearly 40 registered nurses walked the perimeter of Shore Medical Center June 9 in protest of a proposed increase in health care contributions and “inadequate” wage increases.

The nurses, represented by the New York State Nurses Association, have been negotiating since November. Their three-year contract expired Dec. 31.
The biggest issue for nurses is health care costs, according to Joanne Venice, a 24-year employee and bargaining unit president.
According to the union, the hospital has proposed increasing contributions for full-time nurses by 12 percent this year, 16 percent next year and 17 percent in 2014. There are 200 full-time nurses, according to Venice.
According to the union, proposed increases for the 90 part-time nurses are 18 percent for this year, 24 percent next year and 25.5 percent in 2014.
The union said, in a release, “the hospital wants to be able to increase the RNs’ co-pays any time it wants,” citing payments of $50, $75 or more. They further state Shore has increased the employee contribution on non-union hospital employees to $1,000 for out-patient procedures not performed at the hospital.
“Give the nurses a fair contract and let’s move on and care for our patients,” Venice of Somers Point said Saturday.
Christina Colletti of Mays Landing said the stalled negotiations have hurt everybody at the hospital.
“What they’re asking right now, with the increases, our health insurance would be so expensive we literally would not even be able to afford working here,” said Colletti, a 13-year employee of the hospital.
She explained the hospital guidelines have pushed nurses to do more with less - like having up to seven patients at a time on a floor.
“I just feel that obviously we can all work together to make the ratio more acceptable and safer for the patients,” said Colletti. “I really do think Shore is an excellent hospital with excellent nurses, and I’m proud to be among them. They’re smart, hard-working nurses and we all work together, on the floor and off the floor, and I think that’s unique.”
Saturday was the second informational picket by the nurses this year, with the last being in March.
Since 2001, the NYSNA has represented nurses at Shore Medical Center through collective bargaining. Most recently, the union members at the hospital voted May 2 to stay with the representation.
“The medical center and NYSNA met last week for another bargaining session. There was positive movement made by both parties on wages and benefit issues. The medical center currently offers and will continue to offer competitive wages and benefits. In fact, the parties reached tentative agreement on a number of issues including co-pays for the medical plan,” said Alan Beatty, Shore Medical Center's vice president of human resources in an email Monday. “The medical center is optimistic that the parties will soon reach resolution on a fair and equitable contract for our outstanding, hardworking registered nurses.”
He said the next negotiation session was scheduled for Wednesday, June 13.

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