Strong Memorial, UR campus service workers ratify new ‘historic’ union contract

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(Photo courtesy 1199SEIU)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Nearly 2,000 union service workers at Strong Memorial Hospital and University of Rochester announced Monday a new contract that union officials say includes “significant” improvements to staffing, wages, and benefits.

One of the notable contract updates is a wage increase that will bring workers above the $15 per hour minimum wage before it’s implemented in New York state. Additionally, the new contract means workers will receive additional sick days, child care funding, training, and makes Juneteenth a new paid holiday, union officials said Monday.

The union workers, represented by 199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East, at Strong Memorial Hospital and SEIU Local 200United at University of Rochester Campus, ratified the “historic” two year agreement in a “near-unanimous” vote.

“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,” says Arleata Robin White, who has worked as a Patient Care Technician at Strong Memorial Hospital for 23 years.  “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.”

On behalf of the university, officials issued a statement on the new contract, saying in part:

“The new contract reflects the University’s commitment to paying all employees a $15 minimum wage and providing them career development pathways. SEIU workers in high-vacancy job categories will receive the same staffing incentives available to employees not represented by a union. This agreement supports University goals of equity and fair compensation for all employees, and we are pleased that SEIU members have given it their overwhelming support.”

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