My name is Adam Witt. I'm a nurse who has been working at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, part of The Hackensack Meridian Health network, since 2016. I've been in the emergency department for the last two years. I was fired last Tuesday, 4/7/2020.

You can read about my termination here:


Last May, I became president of our nurse's union, HPAE Local 5058. Being president of a local means spending a lot of my non-working hours advocating and fighting for the nearly 1300 nurses in our facility. Adding to this responsibility were a number of attempts to "harmonize" benefits, standards, etc across our recently merged hospital system. Since last April, this has resulted in missing pay, impossible to understand paychecks, and a hacking of our health system that took down our computers for days. Most recently, the hospital decided to "audit" our paid time off in late March (during this pandemic), with many people losing time or going into negative balances. For example, my account said I had -111 hrs.

Needless to say, there's been a lot to deal with, and I've done everything in my power to try and ensure that the staff is respected and our issues are resolved. Problems multiplied during the hospital's response to Covid-19 and I, and the other nurses on the board, became increasingly outspoken. I guess some people didn't like that.

As you likely know, this is happening across the US and it has to stop. I'm not worried about myself, but I am worried about our nurses and staff (and all workers in this country) who are risking their lives for their jobs right now.

So, Reddit, ask me about any of the topics I've touched on, or anything else, and I'll do my best to answer. I'll even talk about Rampart.

If you feel compelled to do something for our nurses, please sign this petition:

You can also contact NJ's Governor, Murphy, who recently called my hospital system's CEO, Bob Garrett, a good friend:

Hackensack Meridian social media:


Because the article requires a login, I want to explain that the hospital went to extreme measures in my discipline before firing me. Here is the image that they hung up at security desks: mugshot

That's not normal. They also spent time reviewing security footage to write up several members ofstaff who may have taken pictures of of my "wanted poster." All this was done during a pandemic.


I'm signing off for tonight. Thank you. Please, find ways to support local essential workers. Be safe.

Comments: 1418 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

CheeezBlue3234 karma

Being a local union president made you a target for management , is your union backing you with a legal team for unfair dismissal ?

AdamWittRN4186 karma

100%. The union staff members and our state president have been huge in supporting myself and the nurses at our facility. It hasn't even been a week, but there's a lot of local media coverage and increasing pressure on politicians. The hospital was obviously not crazy about my story ending up in the NYTs. We'll keep finding ways to push.

Edit: In that regard, and it may seem like nothing, please fill out this petition:

Spinnakerr1477 karma

While it's quite likely you'll get your job back, that's not the point of it all, and you know that. You, to me, today, are a hero.

Advocating for 1300 nurses is not an easy job, as plainly seen by your firing. You are a good person. Don't ever stop being you.

AdamWittRN889 karma

That's really nice of you to say. Honestly, I feel like I'm just doing what I'm supposed to be doing as a local president. I am far from perfect, and sometimes it's hard to keep up with all the issues, but I try to make sure that I'm looking out for everyone. More importantly, I want the nurses and all the staff to recognize their own strength and look out for each other.

Edit: There's a group of four other nurses on our board, and each of them is incredible. It would be terrible of me to not acknowledge all that they do.

ThisisFKNBS204 karma

Is this union limited to Nurses only or anybody working in the Hackensack Meridian network?

AdamWittRN336 karma

There are a few unionized facilities in Hackensack Meridian and most are nurses, but not all. "Union density" is an important thing. The more staff that are unionized in a facility and a health system, the better able they are to advocate for standards. There's no restrictions on who can and can't unionize. The goal of this wasn't to advertise, but contact HPAE if you want more information on starting something.

ayenon456 karma

Here it is...

Union president..... Got fired by hospital. That about sums it up.

AdamWittRN675 karma

Fired doesn't mean gone forever. The case against me is built on nonsense. I'll very likely get my job back, but there are some steps to do that. This just happened five days ago. And I'm still the union president.

ronalddiebel144 karma

With back pay!

prodigyrun74 karma

And pay back!!!

Ya_like_dags34 karma

And pack bay!

Warbringer2430 karma

And bay pack!

AdamWittRN175 karma

Can we talk about Rampart yet?

deadsquirrel42549 karma

You sweet sonovabitch

AdamWittRN95 karma

Definitely not my normal account. Ken Bone taught us that.

darthcat15142 karma

Do you want your job back after they were acting like this? And how long will it take before you can get it back do you think?

AdamWittRN324 karma

I'd like to be working alongside my friends. While I remain the local president, I want to be there with everybody else.

sammyasher81 karma

hospital management is not a vague monolithic entity, name and shame the exact managers who made these decisions. That's the only way these things change, unethical executives being put in papers having to stand behind their decisions rather than the usual vague "fired by hospital management". Name them.

AdamWittRN234 karma

I think my immediate managers were pressured to do what they did. I put this on the CEO of the system, Bob Garrett. Our hospital system merged with the one he ran and there's been nothing but headaches since.

exzyle2k77 karma

But even with your job reinstated, you'll have a perpetual bullseye on your back. Retaliation can and will take many forms, and hospital administration is going to get creative in their ways to make your life hell and encourage you to quit, or even find another way to fire you.

Unfortunately in this day and age, squeaky wheels are marked men and women. I hope everything works out the best for you, and thank you for taking one for the team to shed more light on this situation, AND for the countless ways you sacrifice to care for your patients.

AdamWittRN399 karma

Not to be glib, but then make me marked. And continuing to harass the same employee falls squarely into labor law violations. That said, we really can't allow ourselves to be driven by fear. It cedes all the strength we have as individuals working together for good things because we're afraid of what might happen. I got fired, but I have gone public to do what I can to protect all the other staff at my hospital. In the meantime, myself and my union continue to fight for my job back.

nerdify42865 karma

This not only seems like a terrible thing to do to our doctors and nurses in general, but especially at this exact moment in what is a historic event. THANK YOU for bringing this to our attention.

One question, because I've recently seen some things that have me questioning... Did you personally witness any hospital staff (mostly doctors and nurses) intentionally unconcerned about safety protocols for the virus? Maybe acting a little blase about it and not concerning themselves with the welfare of others around them?

Thanks for all you and your colleagues do. My father was an RN and faced his own backlash at one point. I'm sure he'd be very interested in this.

AdamWittRN1116 karma

Nurses are taking this very seriously. Really, everyone in the hospital is.

The problem is that the standards change from day-to-day. We initially were using only n95s (a face covering) with goggles or face shields (eye protection that goes from your forehead to around your chin).

Then it went to surgical masks (a downgrade) with goggles/face shields.

Then it went to surgical masks with the little piece of plastic that sticks up (like you see in the dentist's office).

Now staff is being told to reuse their masks for multiple shifts. The N95s are locked in the manager's office on many units.

Thisbetterbefood223 karma

Why would the manager lock masks in there office?

Edit: Thank you to all for answering my question.

Rabiddd351 karma

Not them but for my hospital they lock them to prevent staff from going in and stealing them while the manager isn't there

AdamWittRN129 karma

My feeling is that a certain amount of masks should be available each shift. Communicate about what our supply stock is and how long that will last us based on usage and expectations. Be honest. When you lock things up and treat people like children, they'll start acting like children. That said, I don't think thefts were an issue. More concerning is the access to masks in the case of an emergency, per the CDC guidelines.

AlGoreRhythm_27 karma

What is management currently communicating about what the daily/ shift limits? Or are they even communicating anything?

AdamWittRN49 karma

Not about PPE access, reserves, etc.

NeoKnife64 karma

In my opinion, any manager working in healthcare that isn’t doing this is inept.

Protect your supply so that you can protect your workers. Can’t have valuable PPE left out in the open for anyone to swipe.

AdamWittRN40 karma

I think there's a difference between locking it up and keeping it monitored. Night shift has to call security to open a manager's door if they need N95s emergently for declining patients who need intubation.

AbulurdBoniface19 karma

You have to put your foot down. This crisis is not a joke. You tell your management: either you get us our gear or you're going to take care of the patients yourself.

"If you don't pay us, you're going to pay the undertaker."

It would be a heinously brutal thing to do but it would drive the point home.

FSUnoles7785 karma

You tell your management: either you get us our gear or you're going to take care of the patients yourself.

And that's how you end up fired like OP. We are all replaceable to them.

AdamWittRN92 karma

Maybe, but it doesn't mean you have to take it lying down. The media is interested in talking to nurses and hospitals are very protective of their image.

Moar_Cuddles_Please767 karma

You’ve mentioned the changes in PPE you’re told to use (initially using N95 masks and now just surgical masks without a face shield).

Has anyone been tracking the number of COVID 19 infections among nurses and correlating that data to the changes in guidelines for PPE use?

AdamWittRN620 karma

I hate to say so, but I don't think that has happened yet, either locally or nationally. That said, the standards devolved so quickly and, due to Covid's long incubation time, it's hard to say at what stage of PPE standards someone caught it.

SlothfulPhoenix379 karma

What type of nurse are you?

AdamWittRN534 karma

I worked in the emergency department. Previously, I've worked on med-surg units.

Wtfct295 karma

Whats the issue with PTO being audited and it being found that it was improperly computed?

AdamWittRN677 karma

I guess when they unrolled our new payroll system in April (which was screwed up and had me missing almost $2000 due to error upon error), the PTO system also wasn't tracking our time off properly. But we also had a new way of earning our PTO, so it was confusing. They conducted an audit, without any notice, and suddenly everyone's numbers went down. One week it said I had 72 hours. The next week it said -111 (I didn't have -111). The response from HR was that individual staff members had to sort through and figure out the mistakes that the audit had created. This was a few weeks ago, when our minds were sort of preoccupied with a pandemic.

lea_Rn273 karma

This is very interesting to me because my company also had a similar situation unfold. Third week of March they switched from all PTO to a split between accrued sick time and accrued PTO. When they did this, everyone’s PTO balance dropped to almost nothing. It still has yet to be fixed. So people are unable to take time off unit it is fixed. Not a conspiracy theorist but, interesting that it happened to us and you.

AdamWittRN159 karma

That's terrible. What computer system does your employer use to track your PTO?

Edmund-Dantes224 karma

Hello Adam, I can’t tell you my name (for obvious reasons) but I can tell you I’m your “adversary.” I’m an HR manager for a very, very large large facility on the East Coast. I have a uniquely difficult job not because of what it is but rather who I am: a former Union employee, regular employee, member of Managment, and now HRM. It’s tough.
It’s tough because I am “you” who decided to go into Managment to fix companies from the inside and all these horror stories of “people over profit.” What started me into my position was a POS who said “if you think you can do better than me than try it.” So I did. 15 years later with an MA in HR, 12 hrs of Fortune 500 company managerial experience, and being able to understand the “other side” like no one can (because I’ve been there) I can confidently say I am better than most “pale, male, and stale” managers. And I can tell you this with 100% certainty: none of it fucking matters.

So long as there are share holders who pressure CEO’s who will then pressure VP’s, who will then pressure SVP’s, who will then pressure local Staff members/Regional Managers, who will then pressure Managers, who will then pressure Supervisors, who will then whip employees (you know, the ones who actually MAKE the product or conduct the service) it will always be the same. If you stand in the way of increasing that stock price you are a liability.

And the one unarguable fact that I’ve learned by being on both sides of the fence is that the Union is a double edged sword. It is absolutely invaluable in assisting employees. Absolutely invaluable. An employee is stronger with a Union that without. I am so so proud when an Pres or officer knows the law, handbook, and precedent at the local level because they are protecting their employee in a way that HR just can’t because a lot of times in those meetings the “good guys in Managment” can’t say anything because we’ve been told that once we leave the room we are a unified front whether we all agree or not. We just can’t. HR can speak up in the Managment meeting and inform of the same law and/or precedent that the Union will bring you but ONLY TO A POINT. To continue to push or protect the employee from our side will leave a person labeled as “challenging”, “difficult to work with”, or “obtuse.” Next thing you know that employee will suddenly develop “performance problems.” And then a person will resort back to basic instincts: I have a mortgage and none of these employees could give a shit about me so I am going to go with the flow...but continue to do good where I can as often as I can ie Pascals Wager. How sad is that.

Absolutely without question the Union is the best thing to happen to employees...and (almost) the worst. Unions end up becoming the same monster they despise: devolving over time into the same type of perverted model that companies metastasize into - exploitation, bribery, embezzlement, closed door deal making/horse-trading that benefits the Regionals or local Pres at the expense of right vs. wrong. (I even remember a Local Pres when I was a Union member who would give you a certain grade which would determine your pay rate with the company...if you just give him a small standard cash amount every month). I am speaking from experience. Have you ever wondered, “What are they doing or planning in there?” Well I’ve been in that room. I know. And what I wrote is what happens based upon the strategy developed in that room.

You see, the Union is a business too. They have a form 10K and their expenditures are public. When your Regional rep drives a Cadillac and has a $120k/yr salary (funded by the very same employees they promise to protect) it becomes an easy target for Union busting through Fox News style exploitation.

And me, I’m just sad because I invested a good bit of my life to be accepted into a position to try and make it better. I know of both sides and it really feels as if those who really want to make a paradigm shift can’t simply because of the set-up of how businesses work: self-preservation vs collective good. I.e would you suffer for me, and I for you? Regardless of what one would say our actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear the answer.

Let’s wrap this up Adam.

There are GREAT! labor law attorneys in NYC. You can PM me and I’ll give you the name for the asshole who keeps beating us (because he makes management answer the same fucking questions HR tried to ask in management meetings!). He is phenomenal. He is expensive and with it.

Please hang in there and keep fighting for the employees even though they don’t give a shit about you but rather what you can do for them. Separate the emotion from the greater good.

If you can figure all of this out, let me know how.

Take care sir.

AdamWittRN155 karma

I appreciate your post. I generally get along with our HR people and am sympathetic to what they have to deal with, as you illustrate. I also agree that sometimes unions, especially with time and power, can become an issue. It's more a matter of institutions that become entrenched, whether they be business, government, labor, or whatever. Remember that Google's motto used to be: "Don't be Evil." They dropped that.

I'm a local president, so I'm a worker too, and I do my best to not take "no" for an answer from whomever might say otherwise.

redsox2434203 karma

How was the union at the hospital? As a local union president in the area, the interest for the union is very low and everyone says the union is useless , why should I go to meetings any advice on drumming up attendance and interest?

ClaudiaTale506 karma

At my hospital we have a union. Last year I had an incident involving a patient. And management had setup meetings called “deep dives”, which entails being interrogated by anywhere from 2 to 10 people. All management. I’ve never had an issue before so I was nervous as heck. Everyone said to bring a union rep just in case they try to reprimand or get you to say it was your fault, etc. I never really got involved with the union. They tell me to strike, picket or wear this pin I’ll do it. I pay my monthly dues. But I’ve never gone to the meetings. My union rep was awesome, she met with me before the meeting. We discussed what happened, and what might have gone wrong. She gave me a run down of what management is going to do and say, what they might try to get me to sign. In the actual meeting, she took notes and asked them questions back. She was a fierce advocate for nurses. What we need when we’re just scared to lose our jobs or need defense when it could be our fault. We are human.

Thank you Mr. Witt for being a union president. I hope everything works out for you.

AdamWittRN242 karma

Thank you. A lot of people don't realize what a union does until they need the support. I'm sorry you ended up in that situation, but I'm glad you have a good local that did their job.

AdamWittRN316 karma

A union is an extra level of protection, at worst, and people don't get that. It also depends on the strength of your contract, and also how vigorously you enforce it. I think, like anything, you have to lead by example and keep finding ways to fight for people.

Additionally, incorporating technology into how you communicate is important, and social media is pretty valuable on that level. It's not guaranteed, but when members understand you care and the work you're doing on their behalf, they might get more motivated.

Socks2BU85 karma

I do hope you’re filing an unfair labor practice charge. This surely sounds like retaliation for your union activity.

AdamWittRN157 karma

I think it's wiser of me not to address this directly, but this seems like a sensible thing to do in this type of situation.

nursewords169 karma

I’m a CRNA in NC. Nurses are trying to unionize here, which I support. But our hospital is trying to include advanced practice nurses into the union vote, because we’ll all likely vote no, because the union isn’t really for us.

How do you handle advanced practice nurses with your union?

AdamWittRN176 karma

Only the nursing educators are in our local, as far as APNs. NPs and CRNAs, for example, work for the hospital. They really shouldn't be categorizing you all as similar workers, since you do different jobs. But that's probably why the hospital is trying to argue you should all be part of the same bargaining unit.

TaintDoctor160 karma

The article says you filed for appeal of your position. Do you think you'd even want it back after all the crap you've been put through? Also you are a rock star - thanks!

AdamWittRN335 karma

Good to have the support of other people in the medical field. I want my job back because of the people I worked alongside with. I also don't want anyone to be intimidated for advocating for themselves or their patients. A lot of what a nurse does is patient advocacy and that instinct shouldn't be killed when it comes to staff looking out for themselves or each other.

celtic188895 karma

Is the hospital administrator that fired you now doing your direct patient care duties without proper PPE?

Real leaders will never ask their employees to do a job they would not do themselves

AdamWittRN201 karma

There's a picture of our CEO in a meeting with other guys in suits. The CEO has a N95 on. Those are the same type of masks they're locking up on units in the hospital.

MarcosTerror59 karma

I'm a nurse in training and work for the NHS in the UK. I'm currently in my first trimester and pregnant staff do not have to work with Covid19 patients suspected or confirmed as we're classed as vulnerable. Do you know if pregnant nurses in your hospital have that protection?

AdamWittRN125 karma

The CDC standards don't protect pregnant nurses in the US. We've been doing what we can to help get them out on medical leave, but many nurses' claims are being rejected by the benefits department. The system in the US is not good.

rhinokitty47 karma

Since unions only include people who have jobs, what can unemployed people do to help the union movement?

AdamWittRN173 karma

I'm afraid of what the job market is going to look like once we start moving past this. Some people may remember the wage stagnation that happened after the last recession, and it was just beginning to correct before Covid. When you go back to work, people need to organize. We're seeing walkouts in a number of jobs right now, as workers demand better standards (Amazon, Instacart, etc). We can't forget what the isolated and safe boss types were willing to throw workers into.

DrTitan40 karma

How are your fellow union members taking your firing, especially the one you were representing on the day that got you fired?

PS thank you for being in the field you are

AdamWittRN142 karma

The hospital took some extraordinary measures in my overall discipline. If you look at the article I linked to, you can see the "mugshot" of my face that they put up at the security desks throughout the hospital. They don't normally do this. I got a picture of my mugshot and changed it to be my Facebook profile picture. A bunch of nurses did the same. Some people made buttons with my face on it and wore them at work. The support was really overwhelming and humbling.

It's also weird to be on Facebook, look at a comment and say, "I don't remember posting that," because your picture is next to someone else's name.

lookingrightone32 karma

[question] why did you get fired ? have you took any legal action against facility ?? If not why not ??

AdamWittRN174 karma

The NYTs article covers my actual firing better than I can quickly here. The shorthand: I found out on 3/23, while on my shift, that a nurse was potentially going to be terminated on 3/24. Before termination, you have a hearing, and I was to be his representation. I used something in our contract, called a union day, to take off 3/24 to defend this nurse. I have done this previously.

My managers stated, after the fact, that they told me I couldn't have the day. I have a lot of documentation to back up my side of the story and they don't. I'm utilizing the labor process to challenge the firing and get my job back right now.

commissar061743 karma

On the other hand, you know they're going to be looking for any excuse to fire you if you do get it back

AdamWittRN106 karma

That's the type of thing that would get them into serious trouble. There are labor laws about retaliation. An employer who continues to go after the same person isn't going to look good.

YoHenYo9 karma

Was there no other person who could represent the nurse who was potentially getting fired? Didn't you leave your coworkers in a bind by using a union day for representation of another staff member? Why did you not receive notice about this potential firing in a more timely manner?

AdamWittRN16 karma

Fair questions. I always handled the serious disciplines that could lead to termination and the discipline in question was for something a nurse posted on a private Facebook page. This was something that hadn't happened before and I didn't want a bad precedent set.

I received a text, while at work, about the discipline and subsequent hearing and was given less than 24 hours notice about it. I should have been notified, and the nurse should have had representation when they were initially disciplined. There were a cascade of failures on management's side that led to me having to use a union day. However, I've been stuck in the position of having to use a day with little notice, and it's never been an issue in the past. Staffing wasn't an issue.

mycoalswin14 karma

Where do you see unionizing in healthcare post-COVID? Do you think there will be positive changes for all hospital staff with all this publicity?

AdamWittRN17 karma

I hope so. I think, like we're seeing with some governments, this is an opportunity for a power grab by the powers that be or a chance for workers to put their foot down, which is also happening. I wont' be shutting up anytime soon.

1StoolSoftnerAtaTime13 karma

Have you only worked in unionized hospitals? Do you feel the nurses are more protected by presence of the union?

AdamWittRN38 karma

I've worked at both. I previously worked at a hospital in NYC, which wasn't unionized but existed around a lot of other union facilities, so the standards were pretty good. However, if I had a problem, I had to go talk to my manager. And if that didn't get it fixed, there was no real recourse. While unions aren't perfect, and they are certainly not all created equal, at least there is another avenue to deal with issues. It's another step of oversight, but invested in the staff's best interest. I'm elected to my position, as is the board. If we're not doing the job, we can be voted out. Can't vote out your manager.

yourmomsloverr13 karma

Thank you for hope! Keep doing what you do to help your colleagues stay safe. It means a lot to all of us. What did you do before becoming a nurse?

AdamWittRN29 karma

A lot of different things. I worked in education, veterinary medicine, office jobs, and construction. I kept looking for the perfect job environment and ultimately found it doesn't exist. I really like being a nurse, but I'm glad I work at a union hospital. Despite my current situation, we have a say in what goes on as the workers and that matters.

OhNoNotBigPoppaJoe6 karma

How does it feel to be a new inspiration for me?

AdamWittRN30 karma

Overwhelming. But, ideals are important and we have to stick to them, especially in dark days. You may not win every fight, but that doesn't mean you don't give them hell.

littlelouisianaa2 karma

Other than signing the petition and writing the governor, how can we help you and other nurses and doctors in your position?

AdamWittRN2 karma

It's definitely a lot about pressure on both employers and politicians. Find out the bad actors in your community and go after them, especially on social media. Phone calls to politicians' offices are more powerful than people think as well, especially if you know of something wrong at a business in your area. We all have a lot more power than we realize. You ever had a splinter drive you nuts? Something so small that just won't stop irritating you. Same idea.