NEWARK — Nurses and technicians at St. Michael’s Medical Center have gone on strike after negotiations broke down weeks after a previous contract expired, according to union reps.

New Jersey Nurses Economic Security Organization District Council 1 represents 350 nurses and techs at St. Michael’s — a 358-bed hospital in Newark.

Staffing, health benefits and wages are among the main issues, reps for JNESO said — specifically, an ongoing staff shortage including more than 50 open positions in critical areas such as ER, respiratory therapy and radiology.

Late Monday morning, striking workers took part in a public rally near the intersection of MLK Boulevard and Central Avenue.

“We are negotiating in good faith with JNESO, and in the meantime, we remain open and fully operational. Saint Michael’s has arranged for qualified staff to ensure the hospital can continue providing high-quality, safe health care for our patients," hospital spokesperson Bruno Tedeschi said to New Jersey 101.5 in a written response.

Hospital management’s efforts to move to a “go anywhere we need you or go home” way of scheduling has been another main point of contention.

“This isn’t safe for the nurses or the patients, it is a disaster waiting to happen,” JNESO President Elfrieda Johnson said in a written statement.

St. Michael's Hospital (Google Maps)
St. Michael's Hospital in Newark (Google Maps)
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“They want to eliminate the float block language we bargained for years ago that keeps nurses in areas they are competent and trained to serve. But the problem is you can’t just place any nurse anywhere, particularly in critical care areas,” Johnson also said.

“They have demanded more than 20 different ‘givebacks’ from us without offering anything to benefit our members,” JNESO Senior Negotiator Virginia Treacy said of hospital management in the same written release,

St. Michael’s Medical Center had faced shutting its doors for good in 2014 — before ultimately filing for bankruptcy and being bought by Prime Healthcare Services.

JSECO has been affiliated with the AFL-CIO, through the International Union of Operating Engineers.

NJ State AFL-CIO released a "solidarity alert" to all its union members on Monday, in support of the striking nurses and technicians in Newark.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at erin.vogt@townsquaremedia.com

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