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Catholic Health Hospitals file unfair labor practice charges against Communications Workers of America

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Posted at 5:28 PM, Sep 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-02 19:07:59-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Catholic Health announced Kenmore Mercy Hospital, Mercy Hospital of Buffalo and Sisters of Charity Hospital/St. Joseph Campus have filed unfair labor practice charges against the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

The charges were filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for "engaging in bad-faith and surface bargaining," according to Catholic Health.

The healthcare system says the filings state:

CWA has failed and refused to engage in good faith bargaining for refusing to substantively respond to the Employer’s economic proposals. CWA has continued to make surface level proposals that are consistently and predictably unacceptable to the Employer, and which demonstrate the Union’s intent to avoid reaching an agreement and frustrate the bargaining process.
- Catholic Health

On August 25, healthcare workers for Catholic Health rallied outside of Mercy Hospital. Nurses said the conditions inside Kenmore Mercy, Mercy and St. Joseph's are deteriorating, and pose safety risks to patients.

The workers said the rally wasn't a strike, but an informational picket calling for better pay and better equipment.

In response to the rally Catholic Health issued a statement the same day which said in part:

Thanks to strong leadership and the hard work of our entire healthcare team, Catholic Health remains the area leader in quality, patient safety, and overall patient satisfaction as evidenced by the latest CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) Hospital Compare star ratings and independent Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades.

We remain committed to bargaining in good faith with the union to reach contracts that provide our associates with fair, competitive wages and benefits, while allowing our hospitals to continue providing high quality, affordable care to our community. We hope to settle these negotiations with CWA without delays or disputes, just as Catholic Health recently did with SEIU 1199 at our St. Joseph Campus, McAuley Residence and St. Catherine Labouré Health Care Center.
- Catholic Health

In a release Thursday, Catholic Health's Chief Administrative Officer William B. Pryor referenced the rally and informational picket, saying "for the last several weeks, the union has appeared more focused on making noise in the streets than in negotiating new contracts for its members.”

Debora Hayes, RN and CWA Area Director said in a statement on Thursday:

“Despite deep staffing shortages, limited resources and a hospital system that refuses to listen to concerns about these issues, nurses and other frontline workers at Catholic Health have been sacrificing their health and well-being to get Buffalo through the pandemic. As COVID rages on, frontline workers have been speaking up about staffing shortages that are getting worse and putting patient care in jeopardy.
Instead of working with us to settle a fair contract that will give the health system a shot at attracting and retaining the staff needed to care for patients, Catholic Health is dumping money into baseless lawsuits, bloated executive paychecks and nonessential projects. Catholic Health should stop insulting and threatening frontline workers who are risking everything for the community and start getting serious about addressing staffing issues that are putting Buffalo at risk. We want nothing more than to work with Catholic Health to solve this crisis together.”