ROCHESTER, N.Y (WROC) — Nurses of Rochester General Hospital officially launched a union to represent their place at the hospital.

The vote was stretched out in a two-day long election, ending Wednesday night to form the Rochester Union of Nurses and Allied Professionals.  

Nurses at Rochester General Hospital said that, for years, they’ve been stretched thin to look after too many patients at one time, which puts patients and their own safety at risk.

Since the vote passed, nurses say the atmosphere is more positive.  

For the past three years, Allison Smaczniak has been a registered nurse at RGH. As time went on, she noticed more of her co-workers transferring or searching for new careers due to staff shortages being ignored by management.  

“One nurse to eight-to-nine patients happens far too often,” Smaczniak said. “Not just on my unit, but across the hospital. In the ED, they’re spread very thin. Your nurse should not be spread so thin that you do not get adequate care.”  

Nurses of RGH spent months attempting to form this Union. They hope to get more of a direct say in hospital operations that impact patients. Christa Kendall has been with the hospital for almost 20 years and said demands were ignored for too long. 

“You never see any change,” Kendall said. “So, we wouldn’t be in the situation we are if it wasn’t for transparency as they say that we have, which we haven’t. So, we haven’t had a voice, which the union was the only thing we could think of.”  

Despite a majority voting in favor of forming the union, 295 nurses voted no. Pictures from some nurses showed full screens on work computers urging “NO” votes. 

Some photos also show banners in the main hallways. 

“There were a lot of newer nurses who were fearful of what management was telling them,” Nurse Smaczniak said. “And a lot of older nurses who were afraid to lose out on things that we’re trying to lock in like the pension.”  

“It’s very immature,” Kendall said. “We’re here to try and make a better place and I feel they should have stood up and handled the situation a lot better.”  

With the union being entirely made up of the RGH nurses themselves, the staff will hold their first meeting on July 28. Then elect representatives soon after. We reached out to Rochester General Hospital Management for a comment on this new union launch, but have not heard back.