HPAE to Gov. Murphy: ‘Why are You Standing on the Sidelines?’

NEW BRUNSWICK – At a rally this afternoon, HPAE members and labor allies railed against union busting by Rutgers for turning public union jobs over to a private corporation.

“We are also calling on Rutgers to cease outsourcing union work, stop replacing union workers with nonunion workers, stop illegal subcontracting and privatizing public work,” HPAE President Debbie White, RN, told the crowd gathered CINJ at 195 Little Albany St, New Brunswick today. “Rutgers, stop union busting!”

Union workers fed up with Rutgers using its partnership with Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health for union busting—with devastating consequences for the university’s union-contracted workforces, including nurses at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ)— expressed their outrage at Rutgers’ campus in New Brunswick.

In a pattern other unions are noticing since the state university of New Jersey partnered with RWJBH, Rutgers has been transitioning union-contracted work to its private partner’s non-union workforce.

White said unions have repeatedly asked Rutgers not only to stop union-busting, but to also provide data showing they’re not doing so. The university has played games, dragged their feet and, ultimately, refused to provide the data, she added.

“We selected this location, CINJ, because here is where we have found some of the clearest evidence showing that Rutgers is handing over our union jobs to a private corporation,” White said. “Now, our members have identified recently-hired non-union RWJBH employees doing jobs their union colleagues once did.

HPAE is part of a coalition that includes other Rutgers labor unions, community organizations and student and faculty groups that have issues with the way that Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, behaves as a public institution and how it makes decisions that affect services in communities the coalitions care about and serve.

New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charlie Wowkanech (pictured, above) said he’s been disappointed in how Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway has responded to the issue, especially after Gov. Phil Murphy urged him to bring all parties together to negotiate a memorandum of understanding so union jobs are not being phased out at the state University of New Jersey.

“This has been going on for over two years now and the erosion of union-contracted jobs continues apace at Rutgers,” Wowkanech said. “I can only conclude that Mr. Holloway and Rutgers’ leaders have no interest in saving these union jobs. Gov. Murphy needs to show our members that he would not stand by for union busting and allow thousands of union jobs to be phased out.”

The labor leader told InsiderNJ that he knows the governor is personally aware of the situation and hopes he responds to the union’s fair expectations.

The union that represents physicians at Rutgers, the American Association of University Professors-Biological and Health Sciences New Jersey (AAUP-BHSNJ), has been raising the alarm since at least this summer. AAUP-BHSNJ Executive Director Diomedes Tsitouras said what Rutgers is doing is union-busting, pure and simple.

“We are joining in solidarity with HPAE members at this rally because what is happening to their members is also happening to our members,” Tsitouras said. “The reality of this unholy alliance by Rutgers, a public institution, with a private corporation potentially undermines most of the thousands of union jobs currently held by doctors, nurses, and other health care workers at the university.”

HPAE Local 5094 Co-President Justin O’Hea said it is demoralizing to constantly see full-time Rutgers employee positions belonging to HPAE members being phased out and turned into RWJBarnabas Health positions, without the protection of HPAE as their union.

“And, when we point this out to Rutgers and fight them on it, the State University of New Jersey plays dumb,” O’Hea told the crowd at the rally. ” ‘We don’t know what you’re talking about,’ they tell us. You’re not fooling anyone, Rutgers! You’re not fooling us, Chancellor Brian Strom! Gov. Murphy, why are you standing on the sidelines while the State University of New Jersey is taking public union jobs and turning them over to a private corporation?”

Senator Linda Greenstein (D-14) told workers she plans to do all she can to help. Also in attendance, labor stalwart Hetty Rosenstein.

 

Rutgers issued a statement in response to the rally.

“The affiliation between Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and RWJBarnabas Health has enabled Rutgers to recruit some of the nation’s leading faculty who are teaching our students, treating New Jerseyans, and engaged in ground-breaking and life-saving research,” Patti Verbanas, assistant director of Public and Media Relations, Health Affairs. “It has also allowed us to greatly enhance the nation’s sixth-largest graduate medical education program by improving the quality of residency and fellowship programs throughout New Jersey. The affiliation provided $10 million to ensure some of our best medical school students stay in the Garden State after they graduate. We are reaching more patients who are receiving the highest level of care, care coordination and navigation that would not have been possible without the affiliation. Additionally, it has spurred the construction of the new Jack and Sheryl Morris Cancer Center, a state-of-the-art, freestanding cancer hospital at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey that will feature outpatient and inpatient capacity coupled with research laboratories, services devoted to patient wellness and is a first of its kind in the state.”

 

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3 responses to “HPAE to Gov. Murphy: ‘Why are You Standing on the Sidelines?’”

  1. Glad to see Rutgers standing up to the unions there one of the problems why a lot of things are made elsewhere they want everything but don’t work for just look at road construction sites just standing around or on there phones just seen it today on Atlantic Avenue in wall have been there for months but get nothing done because Noone working and way over paid

  2. HPAE protects both nurses and allied health professionals as well as the patients they serve to provide safe environments. As Patients or potential patients, we should be thankful for their representation. Perhaps if just a small portion of the resources spent on the football team were redirected to these health issues, the University, the hospital system and the rest of us would be better off

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