Nearly one month into demonstrations that began over staffing & pay disputes, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital announced that striking nurses and other staff will soon be responsible for their own health insurance.
Starting Friday, September 1st, the nearly 1,700 workers picketing the hospital will need to cover their own insurance costs. Judy Danella, a veteran nurse and president of the union representing the nurses, says that the union offers a basic health plan, but that others will need to keep their benefits afloat via COBRA. Costs to continue their insurance plans as-is may be high for individuals to cover without assistance, and COBRA can only be used for a limited duration.
“We have said all along that no one benefits from a strike – least of all our nurses,” said RWJUH spokesperson Wendy Gottsegen in a public statement regarding the cuts. “…This hardship, in addition to the loss of wages throughout the strike, is very unfortunate and has been openly communicated to the union and the striking nurses since prior to the walk-out on August 4.”
“It is not about the money, it’s about the staffing,” says Danella. “In order to keeping the staffing levels and nurses at the bedside we have to do something to keep them there.”
The last meeting between union leaders and hospital representatives was Wednesday, August 16th. It is not yet known when another round of formal negotiations will take place.