BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — For the third consecutive day, Mercy Hospital healthcare workers are picketing outside for changes they want to see inside the hospital.
“Our lines have been strong, and people are out here,” CWA Upstate New York Area Director Debbie Hayes said.
Negotiations did not proceed Sunday, October 3. In a statement, a Catholic Health representative said:
“Given the verbal threats, intimidating actions and other inappropriate and possibly illegal behaviors by many individuals on CWA’s picket line and out of an abundance of caution for the safety and security of its bargaining committee, Catholic Health offered to meet today with the union only virtually."
And now with tensions rising, Catholic Health said CWA members are partaking in inappropriate and possibly illegal activity. In a statement Catholic Health said:
"Catholic Health is collecting additional evidence and investigating claims of actions by individuals on CWA’s strike line who may have violated federal, state and local hate crimes given the racial overtones of the activity targeting the replacement workers, many of who are people of color."
Hayes said there’s no circumstance where racial comments are appropriate.
“The union doesn’t condone that, and we do not expect our members to act that way on the picket line," Hayes said.
In a video posted to Tik Tok, CWA members can be heard screaming “go home, you don’t belong here.” One temporary replacement nurse said someone yelled ‘I hope you die in there,’ as they arrived for their shift.
“Emotions get high, we expect to hear them calling people SCABs and telling people to go home," Hayes said.
Catholic Health said until CWA can control its members and produce formal, written responses to their proposal, they will not meet with strike members in person.
“We are ready and willing to get back to the bargaining table to bring this strike to a close,” Mercy Hospital ITA Cheryl Darling said.
CWA wants higher wages, additional staffing, and better benefits. It said the strike will end once they are sure conditions at Mercy will improve.
“We can only do that if we can guarantee that they are going to have safe staffing,” Hayes said.
CWA workers said they’re prepared to strike for however long necessary, they said they will continue to show up to the negotiation table but will not agree to virtual meetings with Catholic Health representatives.