Dear Faculty Member,
On Tuesday, April 3rd, you all received an email from Chancellor Brian Strom entitled “Update on Discussions with Robert Wood Johnson-Barnabas Health” This was a supposed update regarding the Letter of Intent that Rutgers signed with RWJBH last August, which outlines the potential privatization of clinical services. His email makes claims that are patently false. In this era of fake news, you need to know the truth.
The prospect of our members losing their jobs and/or benefits has frightened many. For five long months we have sought information to these and other questions on your mind, and for five long months they refused to meet with us or provide any details. Only at the request of Sen. Joseph Vitale and Speaker Craig Coughlin did Chancellor Strom agree to meet with us on January 24, 2018. During this encounter, we asked him straight out “Can you guarantee no jobs will be lost from this proposed partnership?” He stated unequivocally he could not make this guarantee. Later that week, a nurse even asked President Barchi the same question. He responded “that positions will be privatized and given over to RWJBH through attrition.” Chancellor Strom now wonders why the information spread has caused “unnecessary anxiety.”
Since January, we have learned nothing further concerning the details of this massive transfer of money to a private health system (potentially $10 billion over 20 years.) We know that Rutgers is anxiously trying to finalize this deal before the most important implications can be assessed. As such, Rutgers has met with its consultants many times and has paid them nearly $18 million to help them facilitate the transfer. And while it has time and money for them, it has no time to listen to you.
Rutgers is so eager to please RWJBH it won’t even let the ink dry on its agreements. It is already moving resources to them. For instance, NJMS and University Hospital decided to close key pediatric services and move them to Beth Israel, even before securing a legally required Certificate of Need. CINJ faculty were told with no notice that they would be starting to rotate at Monmouth Regional Medical Center, despite there being no prior relationship between CINJ and that institution.
We sincerely hope that Rutgers slows down, takes the time to listen, and engages key stakeholders. Rather than be in a rush to “fundamentally transform delivery of healthcare in New Jersey” it should start by answering basic questions like why its research program should be so heavily reliant upon an entity with almost $1.8 billion in long-term debt); what sorts of conflicts of interest are created when a private entity hires and pays for many key Rutgers department chairs; what promises can it make to ensure that University Hospital remains the prime location for the placement of house staff…and the list goes on.
As you can see, we have real concerns. We will continue to fight so that your occupation and your dignity are respected. Please join us by staying tuned, coming to our events, and of course becoming a member of your union.