1199SEIU files Unfair Labor Practice Charges against RWJ-Barnabas’ Clara Maass Medical Center for Bad Faith Bargaining

April 9, 2024


Bryn Lloyd-Bollard 

US Senate Candidate Andy Kim expresses support for NJ nurses as they fight for better jobs and improved patient staffing for their community.

Belleville, NJ— 1199SEIU has filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge against Clara Maass Medical Center (CMMC) and its parent organization, RWJ-Barnabas Health, alleging the Employer has refused to bargain in good faith in contract negotiations with its nurses.

Some 500 nurses at CMMC voted to organize with 1199SEIU in summer 2022.  Since negotiations began in November 2022, the Employer has insisted on retaining total control over virtually every significant aspect of the employment relationship—including the ability to change, at their sole discretion, nurses’ wages, hours, health and retirement benefits, to eliminate paid time off, as well as to subcontract nursing at the hospital. 

Moreover, while nurse contracts at other RWJBH affiliated hospitals, such as nearby Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center, have clear staffing guidelines in their contracts, Clara Maass management is refusing to include staffing guidelines in the contract at Clara Maass and refusing to agree that the nurses can share a voice in setting staffing standards.

Clara Maass Medical Center and RWJ-Barnabas Health’s insistence on inferior staffing language and benefits as compared to RWJBH hospitals in more affluent areas is raising concerns that low-income communities and communities of color, like Belleville and surrounding Essex County neighborhoods including Newark, are being treated differently by NJ’s largest health system.

A copy of the NLRB charge can be viewed here.

"No matter the need, healthcare workers across New Jersey put others before themselves to look after our communities," said Andy Kim, candidate for U.S. Senate. "My mom worked as a nurse and throughout her career, I saw up close how important safe staffing standards, fair wages, and benefits are to support their everyday service keeping people safe and healthy. Right now, nurses at Clara Maass are simply asking to be treated fairly. Nurses are not asking for the moon and it is long-past time for an agreement that appreciates their needs on the job.”

“We love our community and our patients.  And as professional nurses, we have a deep understanding of how staffing and other issues impact quality care.  We’re proud to work in a community hospital that serves a diverse population, and we need our rights and our voices as nurses respected," said CMMC postpartum RN Lia Devers.

“What is it about this community that makes RWJ-Barnabas Health think that patients don’t need the same nurse staffing levels, or workers the same quality of jobs, at Clara Maass as they would get at another hospital?” said Rhina Molina, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU.  “It’s time for a fair contract that protects skilled nursing jobs in this community and reduces healthcare disparities.”


1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest and fastest-growing healthcare union in New Jersey and nationwide. We represent over 16,000 healthcare families in New Jersey and over 400,000 total members throughout New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Florida, and Washington, D.C.   Our mission is to achieve quality care and good jobs for all.