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Rochester General nurses strike over wages, staffing levels

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  • Staff Report 

Nearly 900 nurses at Rochester General Hospital (RGH) began a two-day strike on Thursday at 7 a.m., following failed negotiations between the Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals (RUNAP) and Rochester Regional Health (RRH).

The union is seeking a contract that includes a wage increase over the next five years to help retain experienced staff members. The hospital claims that they need more time to negotiate and states that the strike is unwarranted. RRH expressed disappointment with the union’s decision and pointed out that they had already increased nurses’ base wages by an average of 19% since January 2020.

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RRH has ensured that patient care will not be impacted during the strike, contracting hundreds of temporary replacement nurses. Scheduled appointments, treatments, exams, and emergency department services will continue as usual. Hundreds of nurses, some represented by RUNAP, chose not to participate in the strike and continued working their scheduled shifts. Both hospital officials and the union have indicated their willingness to return to negotiations in the coming days, with nearly half of the nurses crossing the picket line and working as normal on Thursday.

The main disagreement between the union and RGH revolves around wages and staffing levels. The union is demanding higher wages, while hospital leadership contends that agreeing to all the union’s proposals would cost more than $111 million in the first year of the contract. RUNAP Chief Negotiator Nela Hadzic expressed eagerness to resume negotiations, stating, “Come Saturday, we’ll be ready to get back to negotiations.” The strike is expected to end on Saturday at 7 a.m., and negotiations will likely continue.