Rochester General, nurses reach tentative pact

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Rochester General Hospital negotiators and a bargaining team representing some 900 unionized nurses have reached a tentative agreement on a first contract.

The tentative pact comes 15 months after RGH nurses voted to form a union, one year after the union and hospital management began first-contract talks, and three days before the union planned a five-day strike.

The strike would have followed a two-day union walkout in August that RGH officials complained cost the hospital $6 million in wages paid to replacement nurses.

Hospital and union officials announced the tentative agreement in a joint statement released Thursday morning. The two sides reached the agreement after a marathon, 12-hour bargaining session earlier this week.

Details of the agreement are not immediately being made public. Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals president Carmen Camelio is urging the union’s members to approve the 42-month pact. The union has not said when a vote on the contract would be held.

RUNAP is the first nurses’ union to successfully organize in Rochester.

Wages and staffing have been the main sticking points in the yearlong bargaining sessions.

RUNAP asked for wages comparable to those earned by unionized nurses in Buffalo and Syracuse and for nurses to have more say in how hospital units are staffed. Hospital officials pointed to financial losses RGH and its parent system, Rochester Regional Health, are facing.

“I’m pleased we were able to find common ground with the union (on wages and staffing) and many other important issues,” said RGH president and chief operating officer Tammy Snyder in the joint statement.

The 528-bed Rochester General is the five-hospital RRH’s flagship hospital. RRH also runs Unity Hospital in Greece, Clifton Springs Hospital and Clinic in Ontario County, Newark-Wayne Community Hospital in Wayne County, and United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia, Genesee County

“We are proud of our RGH nurses who have stood united over the last 15 months in their commitment to achieve advancements for patient care at our hospital. Tonight, we have reached a tentative agreement that addresses many of the concerns of our nurses,” Camelio said in the statement. “We are looking forward to working together with hospital management to provide the quality care that our community deserves.”

Snyder similarly praised the RUNAP nurses for “the exceptional care and dedication they give our patients.”

Will Astor is Rochester Beacon senior writer. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

One thought on “Rochester General, nurses reach tentative pact

  1. All that unnecessary drama or is that how the union vs. the hospital management negotiates? Is that what we can expect from now going forward? And the patient and the mission? You be the judge. I do remember my days as Department Director at one of the unionized hospitals in Buffalo, NY. It was my first week on the job. A patient who had surgery recently was in the hallway in a wheel chair and called me over. Turns out he had some significant bleeding at the stitching site. I hurried for some supplies and applied pressure to the site. An orderly happened to come by and I asked him if he could take this patient back asap. “Oh no man, I’ve done my quota for the day.” I then proceeded to take the patient to the floor. There was a call waiting for me when I got back. The union rep was on the line and told me that we were not going to get along well if I chose to take work away from the assigned staff. When patients are referred to as “quotas” you might want to rethink or review the mission statement. The patient should be the center of attention.

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