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Both sides in Mercy Hospital strike still bargaining

“We’re just going to keep bargaining"
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Posted at 7:52 PM, Oct 05, 2021

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — It was back to the bargaining table for both sides in the Mercy hospital strike Tuesday.

CWA Local 1133 and Catholic Health resumed face to face negotiations for the first time since early last Friday.

Both sides meeting with at the Gateway Building in Hamburg.

At 6 p.m. the CWA provided an update, but no deal had been reached.

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Erin Spaulding, CWA staff representative.

“The union is committed to working as long as it takes to reach an agreement,” stated Erin Spaulding, CWA staff representative. “We’re just going to keep bargaining.”

The union and Catholic Health meeting behind closed doors all day.

Spaulding says discussions center around core issues, such as staffing, health care and wages.

“Our goal is to work is too just to work as hard as possible to reach an agreement as quickly as possible with Catholic Health,” said Spaulding.

The union says the biggest issue is staffing and nurse to patient ratios.

“We just want to make sure our hospital is safe for our employees and for patients,” replied Spaulding. “We’re proposing fixed ratio and a commitment on staffing. Their proposal is about targets and it’s not about fixed ratios.”

Outside the hospital striking workers continue on the picket lines and received a big boost of support from the teachers union.

“Shame, shame, shame,” chanted strikers.

NYSUT joined strikers to show support

The striking Mercy Hospital workers continue pounding their message from the picket lines — demanding Catholic Health listens to their pleas for safe staffing.

New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) joined their effort traveling from Albany to support their union brothers and sisters

“The way you thank health care professionals is to provide iron clad staffing levels that are safe,” stated Joelen Di Brango, executive Vice President, NYSUT.

West Seneca teacher and local NYSUT leader Joe Cantafio also spoke at a rally at the picket lines.

Cantafio says his mother was rushed to Mercy last December and COVID prevented the family from being with his mother in her final hours and praised the hospital workers for being with her.

“You know who held her hand and prayed with her during her last hours on this earth — these people right here these are the people we counted on,” declared Cantafio.

BTF president Phil Rumore joins strikers.

Buffalo Teachers Federation president Phil Rumore also joined the rallying cries.

Rumore says he's calling on the local, state and federal government to conduct an audit on why some of the leaders at catholic health make so much money.

“This is a disgrace that the people are making millions of dollars sitting behind a desk — not doing a damm thing to save people lives but making people come out here and beg for a a decent salary and for decent conditions. for the patients,” explained Rumore.

CWA director Debora hHayes says the number one priority is negotiate a fair contact that will alleviate the staffing crisis.

Some striking workers tell 7 Eyewitness News there are times the are 30 patients to one nurse.

Catholic Health CEO Mark Sullivan says the latest proposal would add between 150 and 230 new positions with a commitment of adding $20-million to the staffing plan.

But in an interview with Politico Hayes stated that workers rejected what she calls an inadequate offer that did not include minimum staffing ratios.

Catholic Health issued a statement Tuesday night saying both sides had " a productive, in-person discussion today regarding staffing."

“The chief nursing officers (CNOS) from Kenmore Mercy Hospital, Mercy hospital and Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus, participated in today’s bargaining session and addressed questions the union had about the staffing proposal catholic health presented last week. The CNPS also offered additional insight and perspective about hospital staffing.”

“Staffing is a challenge facing all healthcare providers in buffalo, new york and across the nation,” Joann Cavanaugh said. “Some reports show that, throughout the country, nearly one in five healthcare workers have quit their jobs during the pandemic. the staffing concerns our associates have shared are not unique to Catholic Health. we share their frustration, which is why we continue to aggressively recruit staff to catholic health and are discussing new ideas with the union to address this ongoing issue.”

Catholic Health said the proposal is $33 million wage and benefit package.