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Mercy Hospital workers begin fourth week of strike, negotiations about staffing ratios continue

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Posted at 10:10 PM, Oct 24, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Mercy Hospital of Buffalo CWA members are at the start of their fourth week on strike.

“We want to make sure that they have a fair wage and benefit package and we’re just not there yet,” CWA area leader Debora Hayes said.

Since the strike began, Catholic Health said nearly 50 nurses have resigned from the hospital. In a statement, a Catholic Health spokesperson said the union shows no urgency to return to work:

“The parties made progress this week on contract language about pharmacy benefits, prescription co-pays and overtime pay. But four weeks into its strike, the union still has no sense of urgency to reach an agreement,” JoAnn Cavanaugh said. “We have been waiting for more than a week for CWA to respond to key proposals to end this strike, while the union has spent significant time over the last few days discussing an inconsequential proposal that would allow associates to wear red uniforms on Thursdays.”

“If Catholic Health had spent minutes listening to us in January or February or march, we would not even be here right now,” Hayes said. “We have spent hours this week waiting for information, responses, proposals from Catholic Health.”

The union bargaining committee aid they’re closer to reaching a deal than they were three weeks ago, but staffing is still a key issue on the table.

“They don’t want to say that they will absolutely adhere to the ratio, they want this wiggle room,” Hayes said.

“Not only are these staffing issues unsafe for our patients, but they’re also unsafe for us,” respiratory therapist at Mercy Melissa Piechowicz said. “We all want this to end but we can’t just lay down and say okay guys lets’ go back to work because then nothing changes.”

And Catholic Health said they’re eager to come to an agreement.

“If Catholic Health set their mind to it, we could have an agreement in principle tomorrow,” Hayes said.