In A ‘Near Unanimous Vote,” SEIU-Represented Strong Memorial & University Of Rochester Campus Service Workers Ratify ‘Historic” New Contract That Features ‘Significant’ Improvements To Staffing, Wages & Benefits
(ROCHESTER, NEW YORK) - More than 1,800 Service Workers represented by 1199 Service Employees International Union (SEIU) United Healthcare Workers East at Strong Memorial Hospital and SEIU Local 200United at the University of Rochester Campus have, in a near unanimous vote, ratified a historic two-year agreement that includes significant improvements to staffing, wages and benefits.
The contract calls for wage increases that will bring Workers above the $15 minimum wage before it is implemented in New York State, SEIU Representatives said. Under the new deal, Service Workers will receive across-the-board wage increases ranging from 4% to 21% in the first year and 2% in year two. The agreement also enacts an increased minimum start rate of $15 per hour for all newly-hired Staff.
A living wage start rate will help to recruit and retain new Workers, improve staffing levels throughout the hospital/campus, and ensure quality patient care and services to students, Union Officials said.
To ensure adequate staffing levels, the contract includes staffing incentive pay. Workers who commit to work additional hours if there is a 20% staff vacancy for more than eight weeks, can earn a bonus.
And, dedicated Service Workers who have been with the hospital and campus for more than 25 years are now being recognized under the new agreement by the addition of a 25-year step on their wage scale.
Strong Memorial Hospital and University of Rochester Campus Workers had fought together for employer provided retirement contribution improvements, long-term disability coverage increases, additional sick days, a paid Juneteenth holiday, more training and education, uniform allowances, childcare funding, and other important benefits.
Their steadfast unity in the face of intense and difficult negotiations with management resulted in an agreement that will benefit employee families and the Rochester community as a whole, SEIU Officials and represented Workers said.
“In the Nursing Department and in other areas of the hospital - Transportation, Food and Nutrition and Materials Processing Department, we were all overworked and understaffed every day,” Arleata Robin White, who’s worked as a Patient Care Technician at Strong Memorial Hospital for 23 years said. “We were just not feeling appreciated, especially when our workload doubled. We were prepared to picket to win a fair contract that included dignity and respect for everything we did during the pandemic and that’s why management came back with a better offer.”
Workers represented by SEIU Local 200United at the University of Rochester Campus include Building Services, Dining Services, Porters, Cooks, Stack Attendants - Library, Catering Service Assistants, Bus Drivers, Truck Drivers, and Stock Keepers.
Workers represented by 1199SEIU at Strong Memorial Hospital include Environmental Service Workers, Nursing Assistants, Cooks, Food Service Workers, Dietary Workers, Dental Assistants, Drivers, Patient Care Technicians, Materials Processing Specialists, Patient Unity Secretaries, Porters, Stock Keepers, Transport Assistants, Transportation Center Workers, Truck Drivers, and Unit Support Assistants.