Updated 10/12/2012 05:14 PM
Union Workers Protest Outside of URMC
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"We gotta get started. Let's start this line."
A show of solidarity, and a message...
"Let's get these signs here."
That enough... is enough.
"The workers, united will never be defeated."
Noon hour brought out a big, and loud gathering of University of Rochester union service workers. Eighteen-hundred members of two SEIU unions say they're stuck in stalled contract talks.
"I know I need my benefits, and I know we deserve a raise," said Doris Campbell, a cafeteria cashier of 11 years.
Picketers shed light on their situation.
"We work for a hospital. We should be able to use the facilities like everybody else,” said Darlene Nowlin Perry, a patient unit secretary in the psych ward for 30 years.
A contract proposal from the university would bring big changes and higher costs to health and welfare benefits.
"It has been very, very stressful because we're fighting for a cause and it's not like they can't afford to do it,” said Nowlin Perry.
"I need my health care, I need my benefits, I need to take care of my family,” said John Daszczyszak, a cook of seven years. "Our health care is very important to us. They want to run this place, they need us to run it for them."
To union members, it's not just the benefits. They're also looking for a pay raise they say the University won't offer.
"The economy's terrible, and we're closer to poverty level. We're not there, but without a raise we will be,” said Nowlin Perry.
"It's people in here that have kids and stuff. Health insurance is expensive. It's high. I can't even survive without it,” said Campbell.
The University of Rochester said in a statement it is willing to go back to the bargaining table. The latest talks took place Monday. Needless to say, the union isn't pleased.
"We put out ideas of what we want to do, and they in turn tell us what they're not going to do,” said Nowlin Perry.
The University says it's willing to offer competitive compensation but must reel in health care costs. The union's last two year deal ended last month.
The union doesn't want a strike. It is united, in what workers need.
"This is a turning point. This is something we have to have."
The Union workers asked for some support from the student body, joining students and staff as the rally continued on to the U of R administration building.
Service workers at the U of R make sure students are fed, help them access transportation, and make sure students are able to live and study in a clean, healthy environment. They also care for the sick and elderly at Strong.
"I'm personally closest with the food service workers, I interact with them daily, they give me my food. I am also pretty friendly with the service workers, the people who clean up after us. I mean, I just recognize that without these people, I wouldn't get food, my bathroom and living arrangements would be a mess; and because they make my life easy, I feel that this is the least I could do, to help them," said Ryan Bruckenthal.
The students of the U of R have compiled about 500 petitions that they plan to deliver to university president Joel Seligman.