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The strike by more than 300 nurses and other healthcare workers at St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey has reached a critical juncture. Working with hospital management and a federal mediator, the Jersey Nurses Economic Security Organization (JNESO) union is conspiring to end the strike before the workers can win their case.

Nurses on strike at St. Michael’s Hospital in Newark, New Jersey (Source: JNESO)

Over the past few days, union officials and St. Michael’s management (which acts on behalf of Prime Healthcare, which owns the hospital) met under the auspices of a federal mediator. At a meeting on June 17, the three parties discussed a new management offer.

In an email to members, JNESO said the offer would be considered by union leaders and a tentative agreement could be finalized as early as Monday June 20. A ratification vote could be held as quickly as two days later on Wednesday, June 22.

The email did not contain any details of management’s latest offer. The reason is clear: Prime Healthcare has no intention of retreating and is determined to force workers to swallow sub-inflation wages, continued understaffing and other coverage concessions. medical.

The company’s previous “last, best and final” offer included a 2.2% raise for each year of the three-year contract. This would lead to a sharp drop in real wages, given the high inflation rate of 8.6% over four decades. The company also proposed a health plan that would have imposed a high deductible and an obligation for workers to persuade out-of-network doctors to treat them on St. Michael’s premises.

Workers resolutely rejected this austerity proposal. But the union’s reaction to this militant stance has not been to step up the fight against Prime Healthcare. On the contrary, JNESO came back with a counter-proposal of a 6% increase in each year of the contract, more than 2.5% below the rate of inflation.