‘Feeling optimistic’: Rochester General nurse negotiations move forward

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A productive day at the bargaining table.

That’s how the Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals described their meeting on Friday with Rochester General Hospital. Both parties met for the first time since the union’s two-day strike last week, and were able to agree upon four points for the contract – the union’s first.

Union members say it’s good news, but there are still some larger items on the table that remain unresolved.

“Honestly, it was the most productive conversation we have ever had with them,” said Phoebe Sheehan, an ICU nurse with RGH. “Prior to now, it’s really felt like management has been dragging their feet. I don’t know if this has been a wakeup call for them, but it just feels like they’re taking us much more seriously now.”

Here’s a list of the four agreements, according to the union:

  • Non-discrimination: RGH obligated to ‘reasonably accommodate’ nurses with disabilities, not discriminate against protected classes, and provide union involvement in the process
  • Classification of employees: Define hours for part-time, and full-time
  • Committees: Agree to a labor-management committee, retention committee and continuation of unit-based councils
  • Uniform and dress code: Union shirts allowed on Fridays

Sheehan said it’s all good progress, but they still have some key items on the table, like safe staffing and wages.

“So, determining how many patients a nurse should have at a given time in each unit – that can look different in any unit – and making them contractually obligated to uphold those numbers,” she said.

RGH officials posted an update on their website Friday evening.

They say talks lasted five hours and were moderated by a federal mediator. They say they presented two sets of ‘non-economic counterproposals’ to get closer to a full agreement.

Hospital officials also say they presented a two-party package proposal, focused on management rights and union fees.

The hospital and union are set to meet again next Thursday.

News10NBC asked hospital leaders if they could confirm today’s conversations went smoothly, but they did not comment beyond the agreements listed above.