RGH leaders and nurses meet for 23rd bargaining session; Still no agreement

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Management at Rochester General Hospital and the union that represents its nurses met on Monday for their 23rd collective bargaining session since last October.

The two groups worked to negotiate on topics including wages, incentive pay for certifications, vacation days, paid sick time, and pay for an-call nurses. However, the Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals (RUNAP) and hospital leaders still haven’t reached an agreement.

During the bargaining session, RGH presented two proposals to the union. Here is the first proposal, according to the RGH website:

  • Wages: RGH’s most recent counterproposal offers all nurses a 6% base-rate increase, with nurse base-rate pay scales further increasing to the Year 1 rates for many RNs by March 30, 2024 (or as soon as possible if the contract is ratified after that date). RGH nurses would also receive 4% increases in years two and three of the contract and a 3% increase in year four of the contract. Finally, RGH’s proposal provides that if RRH implements a wage program with RN wage scales for other RRH facilities in the Finger Lakes Region that exceed the wage scales in the contract during any year of the contract, those increased rates would apply to RUNAP as well.
  • Differentials: RGH did not change its prior proposal on various differentials but did propose to add a new Performance Recognition Program. The program would set aside up to $500,000 each year to use as additional monetary rewards for RUNAP-represented nurses when certain target objectives related to patient care, patient safety or overall hospital performance are reached. A committee would be formed to agree on the three objectives for each year and to determine how payments would be distributed and in what amounts if the objectives are achieved.
  • Per Diem Program and Compensation: RGH maintained its prior proposal on this issue.
  • Certifications: RGH revised its counterproposals to provide nurses up to an additional $2.00 per hour incentive pay for certifications. Nurses whose existing certifications would exceed the $2.00 per hour limit upon ratification of the collective bargaining agreement would continue to receive the existing financial incentives for their certifications until those expire.
  • Hours, Overtime, On-Call & Schedules: RGH revised its counterproposal to specify that all on-call nurses would receive an additional $5 per hour.

Here is the second proposal from RGH:

  • Holidays: RGH revised its counterproposal to include certain language proposed by RUNAP in a prior proposal.
  • Vacation: RGH presented an updated counterproposal that provides one additional vacation day to nurses with 25+ years of service.
  • Paid Sick Time: RGH maintained its prior proposal on this issue.
  • Paid Leaves: RGH proposed to add nephews, nieces, aunts and uncles to the list of family members whose deaths would allow full-time nurses to take paid bereavement leave. This is a change proposed by RUNAP.
  • Unpaid Leaves of Absence: RGH presented a revised counterproposal that would allow nurses to be granted up to five weeks of unpaid leave for personal reasons, if approved by RGH nursing leadership. Additionally, RGH proposed that up to one member of RUNAP’s executive leadership team would be permitted to take unpaid personal leave to work for the union once during the life of the contract.

RUNAP responded with it’s own proposals including on wages, insurance benefits, the staffing incentive program, temporary reassignment/floating, and retirement benefits. RUNAP did not change its proposals on holidays and vacation, according to RGH. 

RUNAP posted about the most recent bargaining session on its Facebook page, writing:

“We ask that our bargaining unit (all staff RNs at RGH) look closely at each section and ask themselves if they are willing to concede on these issues- the hospital is still treating us like we’re non-union and wants to take more and more away from us.”

“Ultimately, it all comes down to staffing, but we cannot staff our hospital if there is no serious effort on admin’s part to retain and recruit nurses- which is where the economic proposals come into play. Our patients deserve better than short staffed nurses who don’t have the proper time to devote to their care. Our patients deserve lower than average risk of infections and injuries which are preventable with minimum safe nurse:patient ratios. And our patients deserve to have the best care in Rochester when they come to RGH.”

Here is a flyer about the bargaining session that the union posted on its Facebook:

Monday’s session came two months after RGH nurses went on two-day strike after the union and the hospital couldn’t reach a contract agreement. Nurses picketed around the hospital’s main entrance, calling for fairer wages and more staffing. The strike didn’t impact patient care.

RUNAP represents about 900 nurses and other professionals. The nurses unionized last year and are trying to reach their first ever contract.