June 27, 2020 - Health Professionals and Allied Employees Local 5138 (HPAE) ratified a new contract on Friday for about 300 nurses at Southern Ocean Medical Center (SOMC).
The bargaining committees for Hackensack Meridian Health and the SOMC local union worked hard since April to reach an agreement that enables Hackensack Meridian Health to continue to deliver safe, high quality care for patients and provide a comprehensive, generous and affordable wage and benefits package to retain and recruit team members across the network.
Michelle Morrison, SOMC’s chief hospital executive, said she is proud of the collaboration between Micki Patrick, SOMC’s chief nursing officer, and Registered Nurse Anna Pona, the SOMC local union president.
“I know bargaining was full of long nights and heartfelt discussions between these two amazing health care professionals,” Morrison said. “The agreement they crafted, which union members overwhelmingly supported today, is another testament to the teamwork at SOMC that has helped us care for our community during COVID-19 and achieve important milestones such as Magnet® status. I look forward to more collaboration and teamwork as we move forward together under this new contract.”
Patrick said she was grateful for a professional and respectful relationship with her counterpart across the bargaining table.
“Anna and I both strongly believe in putting patients first while keeping nurses safe and providing them with competitive pay and benefits,” she said. “I have seen SOMC nurses, including Anna, do amazing things during the pandemic and during the normal times we had before COVID-19. Our nurses routinely put patients first and readily collaborate with hospital leaders to make sure we are providing the highest-quality and safest care possible. This new contract sets the stage for more collaboration in the future, which will serve our patients and our nurses well.”
Hackensack Meridian Health had been bargaining together with Local 5138 at SOMC and Local 5058, which represents about 1,200 nurses at Jersey Shore University Medical Center (JSUMC). The locals have historically bargained together. HPAE, in an unprecedented decision, approved a tentative agreement separately and only for the SOMC local union.
Hackensack Meridian Health continued bargaining with the JSUMC local on Tuesday and Wednesday. Hackensack Meridian Health has offered to continue bargaining with the JSUMC local union next week. Hackensack Meridian Health looks forward to soon settling the contract.
SOMC nurses are now sharing the same wage increases provided across the network.
The SOMC contract includes:
Market-competitive pay increase that brings nurses to the same wage scale as all other Hackensack Meridian Health RNs in the region
Increased differentials for MSN, preceptor and charge pay to match the pay for all other RNs in the region
Increased tuition reimbursement
Bonuses for national certification and career ladders, differentials for MSN, preceptor and charge pay to match all other nurses in the region
Guidelines for floating nurses based on guidelines developed by union and Hackensack Meridian Health leadership
The new SOMC contract replaces the previous collective bargaining agreement with the nurses.The contract begins on July 12. It will last for three years.