Rochester General Hospital (RGH) and the Rochester Union of Nurses & Allied Professionals (RUNAP) met yesterday for our third bargaining session. The session began shortly after 10:00 a.m. and ended at 4:15 p.m., with both sides discussing several issues and exchanging proposals.
An important note to level set expectations about the pace of negotiations: We have now completed only the third bargaining session between RGH and RUNAP. It’s very common that labor negotiations over any collective bargaining agreement, and especially a first contract, can take a significant amount of time, even when both sides are bargaining vigorously and in good faith, as RGH and RUNAP are. According to a 2022 analysis of data by Bloomberg Law, it can take an average of 465 days, or 15 months, to reach and ratify a first labor contract.
RUNAP has indicated all their proposals have now been presented (or are “on the table”). RGH is in the process of analyzing the union’s proposals and making its own proposals. It will take time for RGH to carefully review all of the union’s proposals, consider the potential impact they would have on the Hospital and patient care, develop its own proposals or counterproposals and negotiate back and forth with the union with the goal of reaching a collective bargaining agreement.
RGH is as committed as ever to moving as quickly as possible to reach a collective bargaining agreement that ensures our patients receive the best possible care and that our nurses are treated fairly and can do their best work. This means taking time to be as thorough and diligent as possible throughout the entire process.
Yesterday, the parties reached two important agreements, including the following: a tentative agreement (TA) on a 90-day probationary period for nurses hired, promoted or transferred into the bargaining unit, as well as nurses in the Explorer Program.
The parties also agreed to an urgent, critically important and temporary incentive program to encourage nurses in the adult Emergency Department to pick up additional shifts and help address the high volume of patients. In recent weeks, RGH has seen unprecedented numbers of patients in the Emergency Department. This incentive program is designed to help get additional nurses on the floor to provide necessary patient care. We are pleased that we were able to reach a quick agreement with RUNAP on this critically important temporary incentive.
During the Session, the Parties Discussed the Following Proposals from RGH:
- Committees: RGH presented a proposal that agreed with some components of RUNAP’s previous proposal on Committees, including the creation of a Labor-Management Committee and Retention Committee. RUNAP has not yet responded to this proposal.
- Management Rights: RGH’s proposal outlined the specific rights and operational authority that would remain solely with RGH to ensure the Hospital can continue to manage and make important decisions about how best to use its facilities and deploy its workforce to meet the healthcare needs of the Rochester community. RUNAP has not yet responded to this proposal.
- Separability: RGH proposed that if any New York State or federal law or regulation or court decision impacts any portion of the collective bargaining agreement, the contract would be deemed amended by those laws, regulations and rulings. RUNAP has not yet responded to this proposal.
- Successorship: RGH proposed that, while no changes in ownership are currently contemplated, it would provide RUNAP written notice before there is any change in RGH’s ownership. RUNAP has not yet responded to this proposal.
- Union Security: RGH informed RUNAP that it does not agree with the RUNAP proposal for Union Security language. RGH explained that, in light of the ongoing nursing shortage and staffing challenges, it does not agree with the proposed requirement that RGH discharge RNs who refuse to pay union dues when termination is requested by RUNAP.
The Parties also Discussed Several New Proposals and Counterproposals from the Union, including:
- Staffing Grids: RUNAP proposed new staffing grids and ratios for Vascular Access, Peds ED, GI/Endo, 6800 and Employee Health. RGH is reviewing these staffing grids and will respond at a future bargaining session.
- Non-Discrimination: RUNAP presented a counterproposal that would permit grievances and arbitration proceedings over alleged discrimination issues. RGH responded with a counterproposal to permit grievances, but not arbitration, over such issues. The parties will continue to discuss this proposal at future bargaining sessions.
RGH and RUNAP will be exchanging dates for the next bargaining session. The parties are also planning to hold additional meetings on specific issues that do not directly relate to the proposals for a collective bargaining agreement. We will issue another update following the next bargaining session to keep you informed. Please visit www.RGHNursesMatter.org for more information. 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.