🔴 1,700 nurses at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital went on strike Aug. 4

🔴 Both sides met with a mediator on Friday but did not reach any agreements

🔴 RWJ says nurses are supporting "untenable outlier positions" about staffing

NEW BRUNSWICK — Striking nurses at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and management met Friday for another round of mediated talks aimed at ending the 65 day old strike.

The only thing both sides could agree on was to meet again on Tuesday with a mediator.

It's not wages but enforceable staffing levels that separate the nurses union and hospital management and where those levels fall.

Hospital spokeswoman Wendy Gottsegen accused United Steel Workers 4-200 members of misleading the public about staffing levels in a statement released Friday morning as talks were getting underway. The hospital is staffed by 170 more nurses than the proposed staffing legislation supported by the union, according to Gottsegen.

After Friday's talks, Gottsegen said the hospital continues to offer "top-of-market wages" and safe-staffing levels that meet or exceed levels set by legislation in states like California and in a number of hospital labor settlements across the country

“While we remain disappointed by the union’s continued advancement of untenable outlier positions, we look forward to returning to the negotiating table Tuesday, when the mediator has scheduled the next session," Gottsegen said.

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin with striking RWJUH nurses
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin with striking RWJUH nurses (@SpeakerCoughlin via X)

Staffing levels the sticking point

Renee Bacony, a veteran nurse and negotiating team member for United Steelworkers 4-200 said to New Jersey 101.5 that staffing levels are high because Robert Wood Johnson is a Level 1 trauma center and gets patients from all over the state.

"That being said our staffing should not fall below standards. The nurses at RWJ who stand united on the picket line are exceptionally prepared nurses. Their expertise and experience is an intricate part of the care that is delivered in this hospital. We want to continue to serve our patients and the community. Safe staffing is obtainable and should be a proud moment for RWJ and the community," Bacony said.

Judy Danella, president of USW local 4-200, told New Jersey 101.5's Bill Spadea that the big sticking point is how a sick call from a nurse is handled and how it affects the staffing ratio.

"If I'm supposed to have six nurses on my floor and someone calls out sick and you have to run with five or four they don't have to staff up to give you what you need," Danella said to Spadea. "Your calling out sick harms your floor."

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