NEWS: Sanders Celebrates New Jersey Nurses and Their Historic Victory to Improve Safety for Patients and Health Care Workers

Reportedly the longest running strike in New Jersey history, 1,700 nurses stood on the picket line for 5 months calling for safer working conditions for nurses and patients

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released the following statement after 1,700 nurses at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey secured a historic union contract – after 5 months on the picket line – that will improve dangerous and inadequate nurse-to-patient staffing ratios:

“Let me, once again, congratulate the 1,700 nurses at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital for overwhelmingly voting to approve an historic union contract to substantially improve the safety of patients and health care workers. What this contract proves is that when nurses stand together and fight for their rights and the rights of their patients there is nothing that they cannot accomplish. Going out on strike for more than 130 days against a giant hospital chain that raked in more than $7.6 billion and had the resources to pay traveling nurses hundreds of millions of dollars is not easy. It takes a tremendous amount of courage. And let’s be clear: The enormous sacrifices these brave nurses made will not only significantly improve the lives of their patients and themselves, their victory gives hope to nurses all over America who are overworked, stressed out, and stretched to the breaking point, that if they go on strike and demand safe nurse to patient ratios they too can win. As the Chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, I am proud to have held a hearing attended by more than 700 nurses in New Jersey to focus on the need to not only enact safe staffing ratios at Robert Wood Johnson, but at hospitals throughout the country. I will continue to do everything that I can in the Senate to increase the number of nurses in this country and to retain the nursing workforce we have. Nurses are there for us when we need them most, we must do everything we can to be there for them.”

Sanders met with the nurses soon after the strike began and in October brought the Senate HELP Committee to New Brunswick to hold a field hearing titled “Overworked and Undervalued: Is the Severe Hospital Staffing Crisis Endangering the Well-Being of Patients and Nurses?” to discuss the nursing staffing crisis in New Jersey and across America.