Nurses at Rochester General Hospital will vote Wednesday on whether to go on strike

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The union that represents nearly 900 nurses and allied professionals at Rochester General Hospital are voting on whether to go on strike. The vote comes after a year of negotiations — but no contract — between the hospital and the nurses’ union.

The options are to accept the hospital’s last proposed contract or go on strike. If they vote to strike, organizers say it will be five days long.

Voting runs from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Hampton Inn at 1323 East Ridge Road. The Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals (RUNAP) is considering going on strike because it still hasn’t negotiated a deal with hospital management on wages, staffing, benefits, and other work conditions. The union held a two-day strike in August after it couldn’t reach a deal.

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Nurses say they deserve better pay and are spread too thin to provide good care for patients. They claim that 82% of the hospital is not hitting the state-mandated staffing minimums, meaning nurses are caring for too many patients at once. They got that number form nurses self-reporting how many patients they have at a given time.

The nurses unionized last year and are trying to reach their first ever contract. RUNAP and hospital leaders have met during 23 collective bargaining sessions since last October, all ending without a contract.

During the last strike, nurses picketed outside of RGH’s main entrance and down Portland Avenue. The strike didn’t impact patient care and the hospital temporarily contracted hundreds of nurses.

Last Thursday, RUNAP held a candlelight vigil for what they call a recognition of risk to patients because of short staffing.

News10NBC’s Hailie Higgins spoke with a few nurses on Wednesday, who say they would rather just come to an agreement than go on strike, but they aren’t afraid to show their strength.

“No, I don’t want to go on strike. I want to come to a deal. I just hope that this is enough pressure to see that – they saw that we did it once and that we will do it again, but the hope is to absolutely come to a deal,” explains Phoebe Sheehan, a nurse at RGH.

“I’m willing to fight for what’s fair,” says RGH nurse Meghan Dougherty. “I want to make sure that we’re being treated right and that our patients are being treated right.”

News10NBC reached out to RGH Wednesday morning, and they responded with the following statement:

“We are disappointed the union is threatening another strike when we’re still actively negotiating and working hard to reach a deal.”

They said they’ll be releasing another statement once the vote gets counted later Wednesday night.

If it’s a yes, union reps said they’ll head to the bargaining table at least once before they hit the picket lines.