Union Workers at the University of Rochester and its Medical Center say they're fed up with ongoing contract negotiations.
Workers like Kellie Miller are especially upset U of R wants to change their healthcare plan. Miller says she took her position with the University for primarily the health care benefits. Her son has sever asthma. Right now healthcare costs are manageable.
"Our hospital visits are 5 to 6 times a year and that's one of the main reasons why I'm here," Miller said.
U of R and URMC union workers only pay co-pay costs, but now those and other benefits are on the table.
The university obviously thinks their concessions are fair.
In a statement the University or Rochester Medical Center said:
"... The changes we're recommending would make benefits like health care coverage more transparent with regard to cost. They would also provide unionized employees with more choices of health plans, access to preventive care, and a variety of pricing options - the same as those enjoyed by our non-union employees ..."
The unions say the 1,800 workers they represent make less than non-union employees. On average, about $28,000 a year.
"Right now I'm a single mom stealing from Peter to Pay Paul," Miller said. "I wouldn't be able to afford it."
Union workers are preparing to picket Friday if negotiations don't start going their way. In the most extreme case, the workers are even willing to strike.
"We don't really want to go there, but right now we're in a position where we have to let them know that we're serious," Sharon Haley with 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East said.
"If we need to picket, if we need to strike we all have to stand together," Miller said.
Initial negotiations stopped at the end of September. A federal mediator called the groups back to the bargaining table on Monday.
Bellow is the University of Rochester's full statement.
"After about a month of negotiations, the University of Rochester and its service employees' union, SEIU/1199 United Health Care Workers, have reached consensus on the non-compensation aspects of a renewed contract. In late September, University negotiators presented our proposals around pay,
health insurance, time off, and outsourcing.
We are committed to offering a compensation package for unionized employees that's highly competitive, as well as fair and equitable with our non-union staff. We are not seeking to reduce pay or benefits to these employees. Instead, the changes we're recommending would make benefits like health care coverage more transparent with regard to cost. They would also provide unionized employees with more choices of health plans, access to preventive care, and a variety of pricing options - the same as those enjoyed by our non-union employees.
We are always prepared to return to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair and equitable contract."