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University of Rochester unions plan to strike in December

Union caregivers and service workers at University of Rochester Medical Center’s (URMC) Strong Memorial Hospital and River Campus picket infront of the hospital after the unions contract covering the workers expired last month. The worker are seeeking wage increases and stronger benefits package. (photo by Max Schulte)
Max Schulte
Union caregivers and service workers at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Strong Memorial Hospital and River Campus picket in front of the hospital Nov. 13.

Two SEIU unions at the University of Rochester on Thursday issued a 10-day notice to the university that they will strike.

The strike is scheduled to be held from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Dec. 13.

Members of 1199SEIU and SEIU 200United — which represent more than 1,800 service workers and patient caregivers at the University of Rochester Medical Center, the university's River Campus and the Eastman School of Music — have been bargaining for what they call livable wages and quality benefits.

On Nov. 21, the unions held a strike authorization vote, which passed nearly unanimously.

At the time, 1199SEIU Vice President Tracey Harrison said workers were “determined to come out and make sure that their voice is being heard."

Union officials previously have said that a strike is not what they want, but what they have been forced to do.

The unions have also filed Unfair Labor Practice Charges with the National Labor Relations Board claiming that university violated federal law by failing to negotiate in good faith.

In a statement, the University of Rochester argued that they have been negotiating in good faith with the unions "for a multi-year contract renewal that is competitive, fair, and equitable."

"Should a strike begin, contingency plans are in place that will ensure that all University operations and activities, including patient care at the Medical Center, will continue without disruption," the statement read. "University officials are confident that in the event of a prolonged strike, campus operations will continue as normal without interruption, however they are always willing and prepared to meet at the bargaining table to continue to negotiate a fair and equitable contract. The University recognizes and respects 1199SEIU and 200United SEIU’s right to engage in a strike, which is a legally protected union activity."

Racquel Stephen is a health and environment reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.