ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Over 100 from the Rochester area between two buses traveled to Albany to join a larger group estimated at about 15,000 people throughout New York State.

A good majority of the group are members of the 1199SEIU organization which is a healthcare union that fights for social justice.

Vice President Tracey Harrison says this protest is to ensure all members across the healthcare spectrum have a voice.

“For our members who are employed in hospitals, nursing homes, health centers, and also home care these individuals have been in extreme essential in terms of delivering good quality patient care, ” says Harrison.    

He says there is a huge disparity between upstate New York and downstate in the reimbursement rate which is the payment that hospitals and healthcare providers receive for providing medical attention. They’re hoping for a 20% reimbursement rate increase for nursing homes and a 10% Medicaid reimbursement increase for hospitals as well.

Chairperson of the organization Kellie Miller says the need for this protest is long overdue.

“Equal pay, hazard pay is a big thing because again we went three years without any type of hazard pay. We did get the healthcare bonus but a lot of folks was taxed with that so a lot of people are unhappy with the healthcare bonus,” says Miller.

Arleaser Brady who is a local Licensed Practical Nurse says she didn’t appreciate the bonus because the financial efforts didn’t measure up to all that was sacrificed.

“They told us we were healthcare heroes. We was leaving our families behind, working like 80 plus hour weeks. That bonus was actually just a slap in the face to us,” says Brady.

The organization is calling on New York’s elected leaders to invest a total of $2.5 billion in the FY2024 Healthcare Budget.