Potential strike coming from URMC employees

Informational picket planned for Monday at URMC

The News10NBC Team details breaking News, Traffic and Weather.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Better wages and a quality benefits package.

That’s what hundreds of workers at the University of Rochester and its medical center are fighting for as they inch closer to a potential strike.

These workers tell News10NBC they don’t want to go on strike, but they say they will if they don’t reach a compromise with the university.

Outside Strong Memorial Hospital’s ER, 1,000 workers and supporters came out throughout the day Monday to show their support for these employees.

After multiple extensions, their contract expired on Oct. 31. On Monday, they picketed, putting their concerns on public display.

“They’re coming out on their lunches and their break. They can’t be on the clock. So they’re coming out and they’re dedicated because this is very important to not just the workers, but to the community as a whole,” Elizabeth Davila, administrative organizer for 1199SEIU, said.

The union representing URMC workers held the informational picket in tandem with the union representing service workers at the university.

“This is people’s livelihoods, their manner of how they take care of their families, how they feed their children. And so it’s important that we let the community know what’s going on with this employer. And hopefully we can build enough pressure to get things moving in the right direction,” Davila said.

Arleata White has been a patient care technician for 25 years at the University of Rochester Medical Center. And she says she is dedicated to this cause.

“Because we are so short-staffed. We are working double to triple time at work. We’re doing job classifications that we should not be doing, where we should be getting paid more money for doing this. And it’s like the hospital is not even being fair about all the work that they putting on us and it’s really stressing us out,” White said.

Along with patient care techs picketing, there were also workers in shipping and receiving, couriers, environmental services, food and nutrition and more.

“I truly feel that we are essential workers just as much as the doctors and nurses, just like the rest of our members believe the same thing. And they need us up in this hospital to keep this hospital running,” White said.

The picketers marched to the University of Rochester president’s office to deliver signatures of support.

In a statement, a UR spokesperson said:

We respect the right of our union workers to engage in informational picketing. Our understanding and expectation is that the information picket will not disrupt University of Rochester operations, or patient care at Strong Memorial Hospital and UR Medicine outpatient facilities.

The University has been negotiating in good faith since late August with representatives from 1199SEIU and 200United SEIU. We intend to continue good-faith negotiations this week, striving to achieve a multi-year contract renewal that is fair, competitive and equitable. We are committed to treating each and every employee fairly — those who are represented by a union and those who are not. We work hard to ensure that our compensation, benefits, and policies are equitable and competitive, which is a priority for attracting and retaining employees.