Rochester General Hospital (RGH) and the Rochester Union of Nurses & Allied Professionals (RUNAP) met yesterday for our 23rd bargaining session since negotiations began in October of last year. The session began at around 11 AM and ended around 6 PM. During yesterday’s session, a Federal Mediator was present to assist the parties in their negotiations.
During the session, RGH presented two packages of counterproposals. One package included:
- Wages: RGH’s most recent counterproposal offers all nurses a 6% base-rate increase, with nurse base-rate pay scales further increasing to the Year 1 rates for many RNs by March 30, 2024 (or as soon as possible if the contract is ratified after that date). RGH nurses would also receive 4% increases in years two and three of the contract and a 3% increase in year four of the contract. Finally, RGH’s proposal provides that if RRH implements a wage program with RN wage scales for other RRH facilities in the Finger Lakes Region that exceed the wage scales in the contract during any year of the contract, those increased rates would apply to RUNAP as well.
- Differentials: RGH did not change its prior proposal on various differentials but did propose to add a new Performance Recognition Program. The program would set aside up to $500,000 each year to use as additional monetary rewards for RUNAP-represented nurses when certain target objectives related to patient care, patient safety or overall hospital performance are reached. A committee would be formed to agree on the three objectives for each year and to determine how payments would be distributed and in what amounts if the objectives are achieved.
- Per Diem Program and Compensation: RGH maintained its prior proposal on this issue.
- Certifications: RGH revised its counterproposals to provide nurses up to an additional $2.00 per hour incentive pay for certifications. Nurses whose existing certifications would exceed the $2.00 per hour limit upon ratification of the collective bargaining agreement would continue to receive the existing financial incentives for their certifications until those expire.
- Hours, Overtime, On-Call & Schedules: RGH revised its counterproposal to specify that all on-call nurses would receive an additional $5 per hour.
RGH also informed RUNAP that if the parties could reach a Tentative Agreement on the items in this package during yesterday’s session, RGH would agree to provide all RUNAP nurses with a 6% base-rate increase now (in October 2023) – rather than waiting until the full contract takes effect.
RUNAP responded with its own new package proposal addressing wages, per diem compensation, insurance benefits, staffing, staffing incentive program, temporary reassignment/floating, retirement benefits, differentials, certifications, and hours/overtime/on-call/schedules. The proposals in RUNAP’s new package differ from those presented by the hospital in many ways. Unfortunately, the parties did not reach a tentative agreement on any of these items.
RGH’s other package of counterproposals responds to the package RUNAP presented at the last session and includes:
- Holidays: RGH revised its counterproposal to include certain language proposed by RUNAP in a prior proposal.
- Vacation: RGH presented an updated counterproposal that provides one additional vacation day to nurses with 25+ years of service.
- Paid Sick Time: RGH maintained its prior proposal on this issue.
- Paid Leaves: RGH proposed to add nephews, nieces, aunts and uncles to the list of family members whose deaths would allow full-time nurses to take paid bereavement leave. This is a change proposed by RUNAP.
- Unpaid Leaves of Absence: RGH presented a revised counterproposal that would allow nurses to be granted up to five weeks of unpaid leave for personal reasons, if approved by RGH nursing leadership. Additionally, RGH proposed that up to one member of RUNAP’s executive leadership team would be permitted to take unpaid personal leave to work for the union once during the life of the contract.
The parties also discussed a responsive package from RUNAP on these issues. RUNAP did not change its proposals on holidays and vacation. On Paid Sick Leave, RUNAP proposed that employees be permitted to use up to 72 hours of Paid Sick Leave each year (an increase from the current 56-hour limitation). On unpaid leaves, RUNAP proposed that up to two RUNAP members would be permitted to take unpaid personal leave to work for the union during the life of the contract, and that these leaves would not be concurrent.
The parties were unable to agree to a Tentative Agreement on these items yesterday.
Ultimately, if RUNAP wants to reach an agreement, it should show that by coming back with a reasonable counterproposal on wages and other items and by agreeing to allow the staffing committee to determine ratios for each unit, based on the needs of the patients.
RGH and RUNAP have not scheduled a next meeting, but we expect to do so soon. We will issue updates following each of those sessions 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.