Rochester Regional Health nurses preparing to strike

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Time is running out. There are just two more negotiating sessions left between Rochester Regional Health and the Union that represents close to 900 nurses.

If they don’t agree, the nurses will strike for two days later this week.

The nurses say they’re overworked and underpaid, and need more help. For nine months they’ve been trying to negotiate their first contract with RRH. They sit down again Tuesday. 

“In this economy we need nurses. We just need nurses,” said Rochester resident Linda Miller.

The clock is ticking, and nurses at RRH are planning to walk the picket line starting this Thursday at 7 a.m. if negotiations fail to produce a contract with which they’re happy. For months now the Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals (RUNAP) has been demanding better pay and a better patient-to-staff ratio.

“You can’t do without the nurses. They have to accommodate them,” said Miller, who worked at Strong Memorial Hospital. She says she fully supports the RRH nurses.

“They work hard for what they do. I mean the hospital makes their percentage of what they’re making, so they need this. We will always need nurses,” said Miller.

Almost two weeks ago nurses voted overwhelmingly to go on strike. If they do, Rochester Regional says patients will not see any difference in their care.

Kevin Bizzle, who operates a food cart near Rochester General Hospital, says he hears about the struggle nurses have every day.

“I understand that some of them have worked more than 12-16 hours, and then they turn around and come back in shortly after that. So, give them what they’re looking for. They work hard and I think they deserve it,” said Bizzle.

If the nurses go on strike, the health care system will hire travel nurses. RRH says it will have a devastating impact on top of two already tough years. RRH lost $145 million last year and expects to lose $150 million this year.

Meanwhile, Miller is pulling for the nurses.

“They still need to take care of their home base first because Rochester General has always been here. They always dedicated their time, their hours and their dedication to these patients. So they should look at the nurses that’s already here that established into Rochester General, and the care that they’re giving their patients,” said Miller.

The two-day strike, if it happens, will end Saturday morning at 7 a.m. We will keep you posted as we get new information.