BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Monday marking day 11 of the Mercy Hospital strike in Buffalo.
Workers continue to march on the picket lines outside the hospital, while the CWA and Catholic Health resumed negotiations Monday morning after a weekend of bargaining ended without a deal.
“We’re dedicated — please treat us fairly — please,” declared Elaine Gudio, RN, Mercy Hospital
Guido has been an RN at mercy hospital for the last 35-years, currently working on the maternity floor.
But as she walks the picket line, Guido says they union is not only fighting for better wages and better staffing, but for their patients' safety.
“This continues because we are our patients voice and it has become more evident over these last 19-months — during this COVID time,” explained Guido.
“We are ready to see this through for however long it takes to ensure the patients inside the hospital have safe care,” remarked Kathy Fibich, RN, Mercy Hospital.
Fibich has been at Mercy for 20-years, also working in the maternity ward.
Fibich says fortunately on her floor they are better staffed, but when they work as “resource nurses” on other Mercy Hospital floors, staffing quickly deteriorates.
“How bad is it?" Buckley questioned.
“It’s terrible. They have eight or ten patients apiece —they're done a couple of each shift. I honestly don't know how they do it,” responded Fibich.
Both nurses say they want the public to understand that staffing was an issue before COVID.
“This was pre-COVID. This just makes it more illuminated — that how poorly we are staffed to care for our patients within this building,” Guido noted.
The striking workers tell me they are holding up well on the picket lines and will staying in this fight for however long it takes to reach a fair deal.
About 2,000 mercy workers walked off the job October 1st.
Catholic Health says it has offered a fair proposal to the union that addresses staffing. The proposal offered last week called for 250-new positions, adding 10-percent to staff and $20-million in bonus pay for staffers.
Late Monday afternoon Catholic Health issued a statement revealing details of its latest proposal to hospital workers:
· Some associates would see pay increases of up to 25% in the first year.
· Registered nurses would see an average increase of 4.3% in the first year.
· Service, technical, and clerical associates would see average increases of 9% in the first year.
· All associates would make at least $15/hour.
- Healthcare – No change in contribution rates from the current contract for current associates.
- Associates would have the option of participating in a hybrid, high-deductible plan.
- Dental – No changes in the dental plan from the current contract.
- Retirement – No changes in the pension plan, and Catholic Health will increase its plan funding.
- PTO – There would be no changes to current PTO accrual levels for all associates.
- Increases staffing levels on our staffing grids/plans to align with agreed-upon ratios;
- Adds more than 250 new positions;
- Stipulates staffing for 10% above the average daily census; and
- Provides bonus pay if the staffing goals aren’t met.
“Catholic Health is ready to welcome Mercy Hospital associates back to work. We want them back. And we believe they are eager to come back,” JoAnn Cavanaugh said. “They are the heart and soul of the hospital. We also want to settle these negotiations for our associates at Kenmore Mercy Hospital and Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus.”