Union workers picket outside CarePoint Health in midst of contract negotiations

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Health Professionals and Allied Employees (HPAE) Local 5185, the union for the CarePoint Health Bayonne Medical Center workers, picketed outside the hospital on Monday in hopes of brokering a new deal before their current contract expires in less than two days. 

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“No contract? No peace!,” a few dozen employees chanted while protesting on the sidewalk in front of the Bayonne Medical Center this afternoon.

Jean Pierce, the HPAE public policy coordinator, told Hudson County View that Local 5185 includes all of the employees from CarePoint Health – “from the nurses down to housekeeping” – at least “a couple hundred” workers.

Pierce explained that the union negotiated a one-year contract with CarePoint last year, which expires in about 30 hours, adding that the biggest sticking point is over safe staffing.

Safe staffing is a term used to define that an appropriate number of staff – with a suitable mix of skill levels – is available at all times to satisfy patient care needs while maintaining hazard-free working conditions.

According to Pierce, negotiations have been underway since April 22 and she remains “hopeful” a new contract can be hammered out before the current one expires Tuesday at midnight.

“We’ve been asking a lot of our community members and elected officials to contact CarePoint and push them to end this, settle this contract quickly: we don’t want to do anything that will interrupt continuity of care for the patients,” she added.

Pamela O’Donnell, a Bayonne resident who beat a rare form of cancer – nasopharyngeal carcinoma – thanks to the treatment of CarePoint employees, joined the picket to support the employees efforts.

“Without this staff I would not be here. I’m recovering from¬†nasopharyngeal carcinoma and if it wasn’t for the third floor staff, I would not be here: I’d be dead.”

Hudson County View could not get in touch with a management representative from CarePoint Health after making calls to their corporate number on Monday afternoon.