Striking RWJ Nurses Attend HELP Committee Hearing
On Friday, October 27th, Local 1036 attended a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Hearing hosted by Sen. Bernie Sanders at Rutgers University on the current strike by USW 4200 nurses at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. The hearing’s panel was comprised of Judy Danella, striking RN and President of USW 4200, Carol Tanzi, striking pediatric RN, Nancy Hagans, RN and NYSNU President, Debbie White, RN and President of HPAE, and Dr. Patricia Pittman of the Milken Institute of Public Health at George Washington University.
Sen. Sanders inquired about the working conditions that caused nurses at RWJUH to go on strike nearly 100 days ago and was met with both the lived experiences of the striking nurses who’d been dealing with unsafe staffing ratios, as well as data about the effects of under-staffing on patient and nurse safety.
Dr. Pittman shared that “Among the outcomes of this distress is depression and suicide. Nurses commit suicide at twice the rate of the general population,” and that the effects of poor staffing on patients includes, “mortality, failure to rescue, hospital acquired pneumonia, respiratory failure, ulcers, falls, and urinary infections.”
RN Carol Tanzi pointed to the hypocrisy of management on the issue of safe staffing, stating that “All nurses know that the people making decisions are not the people providing care, they are often not even healthcare professionals. If these executives have a loved one in the hospital, they will have a dedicated nurse, or what is called a one-to-one ratio.”
When Sen. Sanders asked the nurses what the response of management has been at the bargaining table on the demand of safe-staffing ratios, President Judy Danella said, “I was remaining silent for a reason, I was pretending I was the hospital at the table.”
Hospital President Mark Manigan and RWJUH executives were invited to the hearing as well but did not show up.
The Local, alongside CWA District 1, Local 1040, and Local 1091, submitted written testimony in support of striking USW 4200 nurses and in favor of safe staffing legislation. Read the full testimony here.