Rochester General Hospital (RGH) and the Rochester Union of Nurses & Allied Professionals (RUNAP) met yesterday for our 15th bargaining session since negotiations began in October of last year. The session began shortly after 11 AM and ended at approximately 6:30 PM. The parties continue to engage in useful discussions in an effort to reach an agreement.
To continue building on the progress made over the last several bargaining sessions, RGH significantly modified its proposals related to staffing, a key outstanding issue for both parties. During yesterday’s session, RGH presented a package proposal on three items to address some of the underlying causes of staffing challenges and to outline RGH’s commitment to safe staffing. The package includes:
- Staffing: To address both the hospital’s and RUNAP’s staffing concerns, RGH presented a revised counterproposal that incorporates into the contract the patient care staffing grids/ratios submitted to New York state, along with specific internal enforcement mechanisms.
RGH remains committed to ensuring safe staffing. This is why the hospital has devoted significant resources and time to recruit new nurses, retain existing nurses and utilize agency nurses, as needed, to help maintain staffing levels. Unfortunately, the ongoing local and national nursing crisis is intensifying staffing challenges at RGH and at hospitals and health systems around the country. Because of this, ensuring safe staffing means the issue and its underlying causes must be analyzed and solutions must remain flexible and practical to meet patient needs.
RGH’s counterproposal agrees that RGH will take all reasonable measures to abide by staffing grids/ratios set by the Clinical Staffing Committee, established through the New York State Public Health Law. The Clinical Staffing Committee, which includes representatives from RUNAP, other patient care positions and hospital management, would be responsible for development, oversight and implementation of an annual staffing plan to meet the needs of patients in accordance with state law. Additionally, in the event a pattern develops that shows a unit isn’t consistently meeting the applicable staffing grids, RGH’s proposal also outlines an escalating process to address the issue and come to a resolution.
- Temporary Reassignment (Floating): After hearing concerns raised at previous bargaining sessions, RGH’s counterproposal expanded on its previous proposal. The revised proposal specifies additional nursing roles, the conditions detailing when they would float to a different unit and outlines the units within the hospital where they could be floated. As floating helps to support adequate staffing levels in a constantly shifting environment, this proposal was packaged with the revised Staffing counterproposal.
- Attendance and Tardiness: In order to better ensure staffing levels can be met within the nursing units, RGH’s revised proposal seeks to establish and enforce standards related to attendance and punctuality. Coming to work and arriving on time are key to ensuring the hospital is appropriately staffed to care for its patients, so this proposal was also packaged with the revised Staffing counterproposal.
Near the end of the meeting, RUNAP presented its own package proposal that contained revised proposals on staffing, temporary reassignment, and attendance and tardiness. The package also included RUNAP’s wage proposal; however, RUNAP did not provide any counter on its wage proposal, and it was identical to what the union presented at our last bargaining session.
With RUNAP’s authorized strike scheduled for next week, RGH implored the union to cancel the strike and continue to come to the table and make progress toward getting a contract.
RGH and RUNAP are scheduled to meet again for bargaining on August 1. We will issue another update following that session to keep you informed. You can sign up to receive email or text alerts when a new bargaining update is posted to the website and also submit any questions. Please visit www.RGHNursesMatter.org for more information.