Rochester Union of Nurses picket to demand a fair contract

[anvplayer video=”5174075″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A local nurses union called for a fair contract from Rochester General Hospital on Tuesday.

The Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals rallied outside the hospital’s main entrance on Portland Avenue for a few hours. Registered Nurse and Union Secretary Gillian Kingsley said hospital conditions need improvement.

“We’re fighting for enforceable safety standards, so we’re committed to having patient ratios that are safe for our patients, and our nurses and that’s what we really need in order to be able to attract nurses to us and to retain experienced nurses,” said Kingsley.

Registered Nurse Phoebe Sheehan added the hospital system isn’t doing enough to address their concerns, especially when it comes to hiring more staff.

“We want to have our patients be the safest they can be in this community, and that takes seasoned nurses teaching new nurses,” said Sheehan.

A statement from the union says:

“We will be joined by local labor leaders and community allies to discuss conditions at the hospital, the hospital’s inadequate proposals to fix their issues, and unsafe experiences their own family members have had at the hospital.”

Rochester Regional Health, which owns the hospital, says it has been negotiating with the union for six months in hopes of reaching an agreement. A statement from RRH says that it has made counterproposals which in some cases, the union has flatly rejected. The most recent bargaining session was on April 11, where hospital administration made proposals about wages, device pay, differentials, insurance benefits, holidays, and vacation.

Here is the full statement from RRH:

“Rochester General Hospital (RGH) and the Rochester Union of Nurses &
Allied Professionals (RUNAP) have been actively negotiating for six months with
the goal of reaching a first collective bargaining agreement. In the 195 days
since negotiations first began, the parties have agreed to and met for a total
of nine negotiating sessions.”

“It is important to note that first collective bargaining agreements take
an average of 465 days from the beginning of negotiations until a contract is
reached and ratified, according to Bloomberg Law. However, RGH is committed to
working through the issues as quickly and thoroughly as possible to reach an

“While many union negotiations begin with “non-economic” issues (such as
work rules and scheduling practices) and then focus on “economic” issues (such
as wages and benefits), RUNAP presented virtually all of their proposals at
once in the first two sessions.”

“RGH spent the last several months working diligently to review the
union’s proposals, determine their potential impact on the hospital and the
entire Rochester Regional Health system, and develop its own counterproposals
to respond to RUNAP. This was a labor and time-intensive process, and RGH was
moving as expeditiously as possible. RGH has now presented over 30 proposals
and counterproposals to RUNAP in our prior meetings. RUNAP has responded to
some of RGH’s proposals/counterproposals and, in some cases, RUNAP has flatly
rejected RGH’s proposed contract language without a new counterproposal
response. At the most recent bargaining session on April 11, RGH put forward a
number of proposals related to important economic issues, such as wages, device
pay, differentials, insurance benefits, holidays, vacation and more. RUNAP
presented some revised counterproposals on those topics, held on their original
proposals with respect to some of those items, and requested additional
information from RGH.”

“There is more work to be done as RGH and RUNAP continue to meet and
negotiate. RGH remains committed to bargaining in good faith with the goal of
reaching a collective bargaining agreement that ensures patients receive the
best possible care and that nurses are treated fairly and can do their best
work. RGH knows the vitally important role nurses play in making it a
well-respected and leading hospital in the State of New York. RGH has the
highest respect for its nurses and is extremely grateful for all they do every
day to care for patients.”