Senate President Stephen Sweeney
Deputy Speaker John Burzichelli
Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro

NJ BIZ – The nurses of Inspira Medical Center in Woodbury, one of the four hospitals in South Jersey’s Inspira Health Network, have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board seeking a union election in which nurses would vote whether to join the Health Professionals and Allied Employees.

Jeanne Otersen, policy director for HPAE, said the union currently represents 800 nurses at Inspira’s other three hospitals and is now seeking to organize the nearly 400 nurses at the former Underwood Hospital in Woodbury. Inspira was formed Nov. 1, 2012, by the merger of Underwood and South Jersey Healthcare.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-West Deptford) issued a statement Wednesday in support of the union organizing effort: “The nurses are simply trying to make their working situation better — that in turn means better care for patients. I can’t see any legitimate reason to argue against that.”

Inspira Medical Center Woodbury Chief Executive Eileen K. Cardile, who is a registered nurse, said in a statement: “Inspira Medical Center Woodbury recognizes our nurses’ right to choose whether or not they will maintain their independent voices while they partner with management in providing the highest quality patient care without having to pay union dues.”

Otersen said an NLRB hearing Sept. 9 will take up the issue of scheduling a union vote. “We are calling on the hospital to allow a union election to go forward without challenges or delays,” she said, adding that the petition to join HPAE was signed by 75 percent of the nurses.

Otersen said the issues that union negotiations would address include working conditions, staff levels and compensation. She said the nurses “want to join their colleagues and have a seat at the table to help set their own working conditions.”
Nurse Sandy Spellman said she has worked at the hospital since 1975 and “what we want to focus on is a safe nurse/patient ratio so we can give the best care.”

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