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Catholic Health and CWA meet for first time since strike began Oct. 1

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Posted at 10:36 PM, Oct 05, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — CWA members from Mercy Hospital of Buffalo have been on strike since October 1.

“It’s very hard when you’re trying to fight for something you believe with all your heart,” Registered nurse at Mercy Jackie Ettipio said.

Tuesday, October 5 was the first time since the strike began that CWA and Catholic Health met in person to negotiate. Staffing ratios is still the largest looming issue.

“We had extremely productive discussions around staffing today,” Upstate New York Area Director for CWA, Debbie Hayes said. “There’s really a lot that goes into it and we just need to make sure we get it right.”

Hayes said the union submitted an economic package proposal but that did not include a staffing plan.

“We want to take our time with that one and make sure we get it right,” Hayes said.

In a statement, Catholic Health said:

“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 also said CWA has not responded to their $33 million wage and benefit package.

“We cannot end the strike until we have a complete and comprehensive contract that we can take back to our members,” Hayes said. “The picketers are incredibly strong, so we feel good about what’s going on out there.”

CWA said they cannot see a deal being reached Wednesday; they said there are still too many unknowns regarding staffing ratios. We did reach out to Catholic Health for an interview, but they declined to put anyone on camera.