Nurses at St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic agree to concessions

22 11 2009

Unionized employees at St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic have tentatively agreed to a new contract that extends pay cuts and other concessions until the hospital begins to recover financially.

More than 500 nurses, technicians and other workers ratified a three-year contract, which goes into effect when the current contract expires on Feb. 28. The new pact continues court-assigned concessions until St. Mary’s reorganization plan is approved, at which time the nurses expect the hospital to begin restoring their pay in increments.

The employees have worked with a 5 percent pay cut — later reduced to a 4 percent cut by the hospital — and other concessions since March, when St. Mary’s declared bankruptcy, citing debts of $100 million.

Attorneys for the non-profit, 292-bed acute-care hospital filed a reorganization plan this month with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Newark and have until Jan. 6 for creditors to accept the plan.

The unions and St. Mary’s, who have been negotiating for months with an independent mediator, were pleased with the settlement.

“We had a mutually agreed upon mediator, who made compromise recommendations that turned out to be fairly reasonable,” said Virginia Tracy, executive director of JNESO, the union that represents 357 nurses and 131 technicians at St. Mary’s.

“It’s not ideal, but it gives them a chance to get back on their feet and us to get back what we lost,” Tracy said.

Another union, Operating Engineers Local 68, represents 20 licensed boiler room workers and other employees.

“Having the support of [the] unions, whose contracts were fully ratified this month, is an important step forward for the hospital,” Vanessa Warner, a spokeswoman for St. Mary’s, said in a statement Friday.

As part of the agreement, St. Mary’s will restore 2 percent of the workers’ wages when the court approves the reorganization plan; then 1 percent more in March, and another 1 percent in June, Tracy said. The hospital would also resume the employees’ annual “step” raise, an average 40 cents per hour increase, she said.

The hospital will not reinstate a paid half-hour lunch for employees, she said. But it will pay time-and-a-half to a 12-hour shift worker who is not relieved by another worker in order to eat, she said.

“The difference between now and when the hospital filed for bankruptcy is that we’re hopeful for the first time in a long time that progress can be made,” Tracy said.

The union was concerned that the hospital would reject its contract altogether if it didn’t agree to temporarily continue the concessions, Tracy said. “If they’re going to make it, they need cash and a few months to get a leg up to be successful,” she said.

“The employees are definitely going to cast their lot with management. The new administration has made some positive changes that we can see,” Tracy said. A new president and new chief financial officer took over St. Mary’s last summer.

A recent report by the court-appointed patient care ombudsman agreed.

“There are no issues at this time with regard to maintaining quality of care provided by St. Mary’s Hospital,” the ombudsman, Daniel T. McMurray, said in court documents.

A hearing on the sale of St. Mary’s former hospital site at 211 Pennington Ave. will be held on Dec. 8.

On Dec. 9, St. Mary’s will hold a public meeting to discuss hospital finances, future plans, services and community benefit programs. It will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the hospital, located at 350 Boulevard.

A hearing on the hospital’s Chapter 11 disclosure statement will be held Dec. 18.

The 114-year old St. Mary’s is the sole survivor of Passaic’s three hospitals.

E-mail: groves@northjersey.com





Honorable Cory A. Booker, Mayor, City of Newark, New Jersey Addressing: “The Future of Black-Jewish Relations”

22 11 2009

Don’t miss it! A huge crowd is expected so please come early!! On Sunday, November 22, 2009, at 7:30 PM, Rinat Yisrael presents:
Honorable Cory A. Booker, Mayor, City of Newark, New Jersey
Addressing: “The Future of Black-Jewish Relations”

Moderated by Gary Rosenblatt, Editor and Publisher of the New York Jewish Week.

Mayor Cory A. Booker is an electrifying speaker with a deep and longstanding connection to the Jewish people.
While at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, Mayor Booker served as the
President of the L’Chaim Society, the local chapter of Chabad, and brought together a diverse community there. He became Mayor of New Jersey’s largest city in 2006. Elected with a clear mandate for change, his administration has been working to realize a positive vision for the city – that of setting a national standard for urban transformation by marshaling resources to achieve security, economic abundance and an environment that is nurturing and empowering for individuals and families. Mayor Booker has been cited by
publications like Time, Esquire and the NY Times as a national leader with innovative ideas and bold actions.
Mayor Booker received his B.A. and M.A. from Stanford University, as well as a B.A. in Modern History at Oxford and a law degree from Yale.

The public is invited.

For more info contact djacobow@gmail.com





Car skids into Clifton home; homeowner, dog escape uninjured

2 11 2009

CLIFTON — A car drove off the road and into an Athenia Avenue home early this morning, seriously injuring the driver and startling the home owner awake, authorities said.

The Buick sedan was driving from Clifton Avenue along a curved section of Van Houten Avenue when it skidded off the road just after 5:30 a.m. The car struck a street sign and drove into a porch and dining room of the house, which is several feet from the street.

The male driver, who was not identified, had serious but not life-threatening injuries and was taken to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, said Clifton Fire Department Deputy Chief George Spies. The woman and a dog in the home at the time escaped uninjured.

“It was loud,” said the woman, who did not want to be identified. “The house shook. (The driver) just said, ‘Help me.'”

The home could be unlivable for more than a week because the car took out an entire wall of the dining room.

(News Source: NorthJersey.com)





Breaking News:::: Major Gas Main Was Just Busted

22 10 2009

Passaic N.J. Major gas main was just busted by a construction company at the corner of Main Avenue and Highland Avenue. The gas leak is reported in the new school. Multiple agencies are responding at this time. Passaic Fire is requesting P.S.E & G on a rush. Main Avenue is being blocked off by the Passaic Police at this time expect major delays in the area. Homes are being evacuated in the area.

Update– 2:45 Passaic Fire evacuating all Highland Avenue residents in the area. Clifton Police requested to block off Main Avenue in Clifton.

Update–2:49 Passaic Fire loads the fire hoses as a precautionary measure. Additional Fire trucks arrive on scene to help with evacuations. Construction company is shutting down all of their generators in the area.

Update–2:50 P.S.E & G representative on location at this time, P.S.E & G rep awaiting the gas shut off team.

Update–2:55 Passaic Police reaching out to the Passaic County Sheriff Department for more officers to block off streets in the area.

Update–2:57 P.S.E & G Gas shut off team on location and attempting to shut off the gas main on Main Avenue and Highland.

Update–3:09 As per Passaic Police and Passaic Fire all units will be leaving the scene within 15 minutes. P.S.E & G shut off the gas at this time.

P.B.J.N Staff on behalf of the residents of the City Of Passaic would like to thank the Passaic Police department and the Passaic Fire department for keeping us safe and protected.

P.B.J.N Exclusive Report





GOVERNOR CORZINE AND DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP FAILED NEW JERSEY HOSPITALS

22 10 2009

The Corzine administration and Democrat leadership that claim to care for New Jersey health care system has failed New Jersey hospitals.

A total of 15 acute-care hospitals have closed around the state since 1997, including 11 in the northeastern counties of Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Passaic, according to the New Jersey Hospital Association.  Among the most recent are Barnert Hospital in Paterson, Pascack Valley in Westwood and Union Hospital. We have witnessed dramatic fall of Passaic hospitals with the last of the three in bankruptcy proceedings this year.

All of this happened under years of Democrat rule in New Jersey.

The Kaiser Family Foundation, a national foundation committed to sound health policy, ranks New Jersey 50th — second lowest in the nation — in terms of healthcare expenditures to hospitals. And Public Citizen, a national consumer watchdog group, ranked New Jersey’s Medicaid program 39th out of the 50 states, largely due to its poor reimbursement to providers. New Jersey, in fact, ranked dead last in reimbursement, according to the Public Citizen analysis. Other groups have witnessed New Jersey’s difficulties and responded. Standard & Poor’s, a major Wall Street ratings group, has downgraded the credit rating of many New Jersey hospitals and predicts that the state will experience additional hospital closures due to its harsh marketplace.

Major problem causing hospital closing is not enough funding for charity care. Presently, all hospitals receive at least 50 cents back for every $1 of charity care they provide. Those “safety net” hospitals that serve most of New Jersey’s uninsured population must receive at least 96 cents to ensure their ability to continue serving patients. We estimate that at least 50 percent of the charity care is used by illegal aliens using the emergency rooms in our hospitals.

As a result the unfunded mandates on hospitals effectively ask them to provide uninsured individuals with the catastrophic health insurance they are free not to procure, at the expense of insured patients and, in the case of investor-owned hospitals, of shareholders as well.

In 1995, New Jersey had 112 acute care hospitals. As of 2008, there were 75 hospitals remaining with half of them losing money. Read the rest of this entry »





Cash for Clunkers helped sell 26,000 cars in New Jersey

22 10 2009

The Cash for Clunkers program generated nearly 26,000 new car sales in New Jersey, giving auto dealers a much-needed boost and reaping $50 million in sales tax and motor vehicle fees for the state, according to industry data released today.

New Jersey ranked ninth out of 50 states participating in the two-month government program, with car buyer rebates totaling $103.4 million, according to the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers, which published the figures. Overall, dealers across the country sold more than 690,000 vehicles and claimed $2.88 billion in rebates during the program.

The program provided a lift for many of New Jersey’s 550 auto dealers, who have been struggling amid a severe downturn in the industry. New car sales had plunged 30 percent in the first half of the year, compared with the same period last year, the coalition said. Cash for Clunkers appeared to bring some relief in July and August, reflected by a less drastic sales decrease of 7.5 percent.

However, experts said the benefits from the program are just a Band-aid for the state’s auto industry, which has lost 20 percent of its dealerships over the last three years.

“It was much needed, much welcome, but not nearly enough to get the industry back to where it needs to be,” said Jim Appleton, president of the coalition.

Nevertheless, sales under the program exceeded expectations, he said. New Jersey usually ranks 15th the nation for monthly car sales, but aggressive marketing, combined with pent-up consumer demand, helped propel the state into the top 10 for Clunker sales, he said.

The most popular brand choices among local consumers were Hyundai, Toyota, Honda, General Motors and Ford, Appleton said. Luxury brands were little affected.

The federal program, which gave new car buyers $3,500 to $4,500 for trading in older gas guzzlers for newer, more fuel-efficient models, has not been without hiccups. After being introduced in early July, it became so wildly popular that the funds ran out in less than two months.

Some local dealers said they ran into headaches recouping the money from the government, with a few payments trickling in as late as a few weeks ago. Adam Kraushaar, president of Lester Glenn Auto Group, said he sold more than 500 cars through the program at his five dealerships, totaling about $2 million in rebates. Some of that money did not arrive until late September, he said, which created “some angst, sleepless nights and cash flow issues.”

But many car dealers said they are just hoping for a sequel to the Clunker program.

At Towne Hyundai in Denville, general manager Rene Cruz recalled how car buyers came rushing to his showroom. In all, he sold 230 cars under the program and claimed $800,000 in government rebates. It was a welcome boost, especially after a slow winter during which he sold on average 20 to 30 cars a month.

“It was total mayhem,” he said. “There was a line into the actual lot of the dealership.”

Now, he said, business has once again dropped off. “It was just a blessing. Now, it’s back to bad,” he said.

Laura Botsacos, vice president of James Toyota in Flemington, said her dealership sold 212 cars under the program, or about $896,000 in rebates. But what she enjoyed most, she said, was the brief escape from the gloom surrounding the industry.

“There were nights we were here well past midnight, there was a great energy in the store,” she said.

By Leslie Kwoh/The Star-Ledger





Emergency Centers In New Jersey Get More then $2 Million Despite Obama’s Request

21 10 2009

More than $2 million for emergency centers in North Jersey and billions for grant programs that have helped the region in the past were in a nearly $43 billion homeland security spending bill the Senate sent to President Obama on Tuesday.

Obama’s expected to sign it, even though Congress ignored his recommendation to eliminate some programs too steeped in politics. Here’s a look at the bill:

WHO’S GETTING MONEY: $60 million is provided for grants around the country to local emergency centers where public safety and civilian leaders coordinate responses to emergencies such as storms or man-made disasters. More than $5.3 million is earmarked for specific areas in New Jersey, including:

* $300,000 toward a $1.3 million emergency center Hackensack wants to build on its former pistol range in Johnson Park. City Manager Steve Lo Iacono said the city is raising money from other sources as well, but needs approvals from the state because some of the land has been preserved through the Green Acres program.

* $250,000 for Passaic County to renovate its emergency center, increase security and upgrade technology.

* $1 million for the Morris County emergency center.

* $500,000 for the North Hudson Fire and Rescue emergency center.

REJECTING OBAMA: Obama recommended in May that emergency center grants be eliminated because 60 percent of the $35 million appropriated this year was earmarked by Congress to specific places, rather than awarded where the risk was greatest. Rather that cut, Congress increased the program to $60 million, and earmarked 80 percent.

BUSES AND TRUCKS: Obama proposed eliminating security programs providing $12 million to bus companies and $8 million to trucking companies, saying federal grants were funding capital investments that private companies could make themselves. Congress did kill the truck program, but continued the bus program. New Jersey bus lines got $3.3 million in the last grant award.

SAFETY RESEARCH: The Transportation Security Administration gets $5 million to expand its explosives-detection research lab in Atlantic County. A California non-profit gets $1 million for training programs in five states, including New Jersey, on how to get different public safety communication systems to talk with each other.

REGIONAL GRANTS: Urban Area Security Grants were increased by $50 million, or 6 percent for next year. North Jersey got more than $35 million this year, which may increase. But port security grants were reduced by $100 million, or 25 percent. Obama had recommended a 37 percent cut.
(News Source: NorthJersey.com/Herb Jackson/PCJN)