Our Nurses are a Top Priority
Today. Tomorrow. Always.

Updated January 9, 2024

Dear Valued Community Members,

We are an organization deeply committed to transparency and open communication. As such, we will provide you with regular updates on hospital operations and our progress towards reaching a settlement with our RWJUH nurses. We continue to re-affirm our commitment to serve you - our patients and our community.

Our Commitment
We are steadfast in our commitment to deliver the highest quality care in the safest environment. You can feel confident in knowing that regardless of the nursing strike, we will continue to care for our patients and our community without interruption.

Since day one of the strike on Friday, August 4th, we have deployed a team of nearly one-thousand highly-skilled and compassionate nurses who are seamlessly providing excellent care and delivering high-quality service and support across the entire hospital. As we enter our third week of the strike, we continue to be very pleased with their level of professionalism, proficiency and expertise. They will be here for us, and all of you, until a contract is achieved with our nurses.

Nursing Strike Overview
Since April, RWJUH has been engaged in months of good-faith negotiations with the nursing union to reach a new contract that reflects our commitment to providing high-quality care and fair compensation for our dedicated nurses. On July 17, both hospital and union leaders agreed to a new contract that would have ensured RWJUH would remain among the highest nurse staffing levels in the state and also would have further ensured that RWJUH nurses would remain the highest paid in New Jersey, more than 14% on average above their peers at similar hospitals, according to publicly available data.

Despite this agreement, the union membership rejected the contract, leading us to further negotiate in good faith. However, it became evident that the union was intent on striking. We offered to enter binding arbitration or participate in a board of inquiry, but the union declined both options. Additionally, we extended a new offer to the union on August 2 that would have established clearly defined staffing guidelines, further bolstered nurses’ highest-in-the-state salaries, and ensured zero increase in employee health contributions for a fourth consecutive year.

The hospital has participated in two mediation sessions on August 9 and on August 16. Both sessions lasted more than seven hours. At the August 9 meeting with the federal mediator, the union formally rejected the hospital’s latest offer and instead submitted a counterproposal well in excess of its last proposal. No further meetings have been scheduled by the mediator at this time. We welcome the opportunity to continue to work towards a contract settlement.

Costs of a Strike
This nursing strike has significant economic consequences for both us and for our nurses. We have already paid more than $120 Million for our replacement nurses with the highest levels of certification and experience in acute care and specialized clinical areas.

Unfortunately, as of September 1 RWJUH nurses must enroll in the federal COBRA program if they wish to continue in the RWJBarnabas Health System health and wellness benefit programs. This is due to the striking nurses not working the minimum number of hours required to qualify for employer-based benefits. The hospital raised our significant concern regarding this potential financial hardship to the union and the nurses themselves starting in July. We continue to implore the union leaders to consider the impact of this strike on their members and member families.

These funds could be better utilized for patient care, staff wages, and improvements throughout the hospital. Sadly, this will also deeply affect our nurses and their families, with lost wages and benefits.

Strike Noise
We sincerely apologize to our neighbors and fellow businesses for the noise in our area currently generated by the striking nurses. We do not believe this is a time for celebration and have always strived to deliver a calm and healing environment for our patients and staff. We urge our union colleagues to please keep our patients in their hearts while they exercise their right to picket.

The well-being of our patients and our community remains our top priority.

We have made extensive investments in RWJUH and our workforce, and we are proud of our progress in quality, safety, and patient experience metrics. We were extremely proud to enable the gift of life to a father of three from Trenton who has been battling heart failure since 2020. Our ability to successfully complete a heart transplantation on day one of the strike and to discharge him to his home to heal and resume a normal life 10 days later exemplifies our commitment to you.

It is unfortunate that we have not yet been able to arrive at a resolution with the union. We have agreed to meet with them multiple times and have been willing to explore dispute resolution mechanisms, including binding arbitration.

Thank you for your continued support and patience. We are here and ready to treat you and your families.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please let us know.


Alan Lee, President
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

RWJUH United Steel Workers Negotiation Timeline

  • April 10, 2023 – Negotiations began.
  • July 17, 2023 – After several months of good faith negotiations, hospital and union leaders agree to new contract terms. Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) addressed staffing concerns, increased nurse wages and benefits, and maintained RWJUH nurses as the highest paid in the State of New Jersey, based on available public data.
  • July 20, 2023Union members reject MOA that was agreed to and recommended by union leaders.
  • July 23, 2023 – RWJUH and union leaders meet again to bargain in good faith. RWJUH offers to enter into binding arbitration to avert a strike. Union refuses.
  • July 24, 2023 – RWJUH receives official notice from Union of its intent to strike at 7 a.m. on Friday, August 4.
  • Weeks of July 24, July 31, 2023 – RWJUH management holds series of open forum town hall meetings and hears directly from hundreds of nurses – becomes apparent that there is confusion among nurses over the terms of the MOA that they rejected.
  • July 27, 2023 – RWJUH and union leaders resume discussions.
    • Union requests clarifying language to staffing and other changes to MOA.
    • RWJUH agrees, but in return asks union to rescind strike notification pending ratification to allow time for union leaders to inform and educate members of revised language in agreement. Union refuses.
    • RWJUH again offers to enter into binding arbitration or submit to a board of inquiry in order to avert a strike. Union refuses both.
  • July 28, 2023 – RWJUH completes $17+ million initial payment to agency to provide replacement nurses in the event of a strike.
  • July 31, 2023 – Training begins for replacement nurses to ensure seamless transition and continuity of patient care in the event of a strike.
  • August 1, 2023– Both sides resume negotiations. End without a resolution.
  • August 2, 2023RWJUH extends updated offer that further addressed union staffing concerns and provides a $20 an hour bonus for nurses should the hospital fall below agreed upon standards, and further increased on-call pay. Union does not respond to counteroffer.
  • August 3, 2023– RWJUH fully implements strike contingencies and reassures patients and community that the hospital will remain open and fully operational without interruption to continue to deliver the highest quality care in the safest environment.
  • August 4, 2023– 7 am, USW 4-200 nurses strike. Union never responds to latest RWJUH offer.
  • August 4, 2023– 7:40am, all clinical services transition to replacement nursing staff without incident or disruption of care. RWJUH fully operational with normal scheduling.
  • August 7, 2023 – Both sides agree to meet with the Mediator on August 9.
  • August 9, 2023 – Both sides met with the federal mediator; USW Local 4-200 rejects latest hospital proposal and submits counteroffer; mediation concludes; counteroffer is under review by the hospital.
  • August 16, 2023– Both sides met with the federal mediator without success.
  • August 31, 2023 – Employer-based health and wellness benefits for RWJUH nurses in the USW 4-200 expire; union nurses transition to federal COBRA program if elected.
  • September 14, 2023 – Both sides met with the federal mediators; the hospital presented an offer to settle the contract or to enter into binding arbitration to settle the contract. The hospital set a deadline for response of September 19 at Noon ET. The union called a vote of the members, adding a third option of continuing the strike.
  • September 19, 2023 - The union notified the hospital that its members had voted to continue the strike. The mediators have not set any further meetings with the two parties.

  • September 20, 2023 – The union agreed to a Consent Order prohibiting certain activities outside of hospital facilities that could inhibit access to care and to prevent harm to RWJUH patients, visitors and staff during their labor action.

  • September 28, 2023 – Federal Mediator informed RWJUH and the union that the next mediation session is on October 6.

  • October 6, 2023 – The hospital and union met with the federal mediator. No settlement was reached. The mediator has set the next session for Tuesday, October 10.

  • October 10, 13, 15, 2023 – The hospital participated in scheduled negotiations with the union. The next meeting is on October 19.

  • October 22, 2023 – The hospital and the union met with the federal mediator. No settlement was reached. The next session has not been scheduled.
  • October 26, 2023 – Health System and Hospital leaders submit written testimony to H.E.L.P. Committee.
  • Month of November 2023 – No formal session has been called by the federal mediator. The union and the hospital are actively exchanging proposals.
  • December 1, 2023 – The union and the hospital have signed a memorandum of agreement regarding the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement. The union will begin the process of education with their members.

  • December 15, 2023– USW 4-200 members ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with the hospital.

  • January 8, 2024 – RWJUH nurses returned to scheduled shifts at the hospital.

RWJUH United Steel Workers Strike Updates

Setting the Record Straight

RWJUH added 200 New RN Positions since 2022

infographic - RWJUH added 200 new RN positions since 2022

Proposed Adult Care Nursing Guidelines

infographic of RWJUH proposed adult care nursing guidelines

Proposed Pediatric Care Nursing Guidelines

infographic of proposed RWJUH pediatric care nursing guidelines

How RWJUH Nurses & Leadership Worked Together
to Improve Staffing in the Emergency Department

Straight Talk About Nurse Staffing Standards

Message Reassuring Patients from Our Chief Medical & Quality Officer

Always-safe Staffing is Our Guiding Principle

Message to the Community from RWJUH President Alan Lee

Message to Our Patients from RWJUH Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anthony Altobelli III

Message to RWJUH Nurses