NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Nurses at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick went out on strike Friday, after weeks of negotiations produced no new contract agreement.
Eyewitness News was outside the hospital as a large, cheering crowd of striking nurses started forming picket lines at 7 a.m.
The union representing 1,700 nurses, USW Local 4-200, said there has been no progress in talks.
Nurses are fighting for more pay, better staffing and a cap on medical insurance costs and copays.
"I feel sick to my stomach at the treatment we've received over the last couple of weeks, I didn't want it to come to this," said registered nurse Emily Fletcher.
The hospital has said it will stay open in the event of a strike.
Robert Wood Johnson is one of only three level one trauma centers in the state.
"We're a level one trauma center, some of these patients deserve two nurses to one patient, for the machinery, the level of difficulty and preciseness of the machine," said pediatric nurse Carol Tanzi.
Officials at Robert Wood Johnson say they have twice met the union's demands and offered nurses a 7% pay increase in the first year.
The hospital says it offered a new contract Thursday, addressing some of the union's concerns but has not received a response.
Officials say the facility is ready to fill the striking nurses' positions with replacements for the next 50 days.
Both sides say they are willing to come to an agreement, but so far that has clearly not happened.
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