Contract talks have halted in a strike by nurses and other healthcare workers at New Jersey's largest hospital, both sides said today.
Negotiations stopped late Wednesday night and no new talks were immediately scheduled in the strike, which began Wednesday morning.
At issue were wages and the length of a contract to replace the three-year pact that expired Monday, according to representatives of both the union and Bergen Regional Medical Center, Paramus, N.J.
The Health Professionals and Allied Employees union wants a two-year contract, while the hospital wants another three-year deal, spokesmen for each side said.
The hospital is offering nurses a 13% raise over three years, management spokesman Paul Swibinski said.
Union spokeswoman Jeanne Otersen declined to say what the union was seeking but said "we are close" on economic issues.
However, "It's about more than the money. It's about proper staffing," she said.
The union is requesting talks be held with a federal mediator and is considering whether to seek binding arbitration, Otersen said.
Swibinski said management will consider those options but has made no decision.
He said the hospital operated at full capacity on the first day of the strike and that no surgeries were canceled.
The union represents 420 nurses, social workers, pharmacists and other employees at Bergen Regional. The hospital, with 1,185 beds, claims to be the largest in the state.