RGH nurses will strike amid deadlock over pay increases

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UPDATE: In just hours, hundreds of nurses at Rochester General Hospital will be walking the picket line.

The union representing the nurses gave Rochester Regional Health until Wednesday night to come to an agreement on their first-ever contract.

Those talks have failed, and nurses will begin their two-day strike tomorrow morning at 7 a.m.

Union reps tell us the biggest issue is their desire for a wage increase over the next five years.

For almost nine months, nurses have been trying to reach a new contract with Rochester Regional Health.

Northeast District City Councilmember Michael Patterson issued a statement saying he would join the nurses on the picket line Thursday.

“Rochester General Hospital, located in my Council District, is a ‘D’-ranked hospital – and the lowest-ranked hospital in the Finger Lakes Region. The untenable conditions at RGH do a disservice to our region, this city and the residents of Northeast Rochester,” Patterson stated. He added: “… we will show RGH that its employees, patients and the citizens of Rochester will not stand to have our frontline healthcare workers mistreated, intimidated or treated unfairly.”

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The union that represents nearly 900 nurses with Rochester Regional Health is preparing for a strike Thursday morning, after a day of negotiations Tuesday that a union organizer said made no progress toward reaching an agreement.

“We are fully prepared to go on strike Thursday at 7,” said Nate Miller, organizer of the North East Nurses Association.

A final negotiation session will take place Wednesday. Miller said that the nurses’ expectations of progress Wednesday are low.

The Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals posted a YouTube video tonight with the title “We are disappointed,” in which they say that if significant improvements don’t emerge Wednesday, they would go to the picket line Thursday.

Accompanying the video, the union wrote, “We were very disappointed that management came back to us today with only minor changes to language on non economic proposals and ZERO change to their incredibly low wage offer. We will be back tomorrow in hopes of reaching a deal, but only one that protects our patients while retaining and recruiting staff nurses. If not … see everyone Thursday on the picket line!”

The hospital says it wants to avoid a strike, which the nurses are threatening if they don’t get a bump in pay and more staff. Rochester Regional Health says it values its nurses, and has raised pay, and it is doing everything it can to avoid a strike.

The healthcare network calls the potential for a strike “disappointing.”

If the strike goes forward, it starts at 7 a.m. Thursday and would last for two days.