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Thousands of Mercy Hospital healthcare workers to strike on Oct. 1 if agreement is not reached

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Posted at 5:27 PM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 18:13:49-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — “We are asking for help, and we have been asking Catholic Health for help for a long time,” registered nurse at Mercy Hospital Tina Knop said.

2,000 registered nurses, service, technical and clerical staff at Mercy Hospital of buffalo will go on strike on October 1 if an agreement is not reached and said they’ll strike for at least seven days.

“We don’t want to strike, we want to take care of our patients, but at this point we see no other options,” ITA at Mercy Hospital Cheryl Darling said.

Healthcare workers said supply shortages are pushing them to the brink. They said they don’t have enough urinals, sheets, blankets, washcloths, thermometers, urine tubes, blood tubes and syringes to do their jobs.

“And that’s just a few, we could go on and on, there are pages and pages,” registered nurse at Mercy Hospital Jackie Ettipio said.

Workers also said two main points of negotiation will be staffing ratios and facility conditions during a pandemic. They said right now nurses are working at a one to three ratio with patients, and during the height of the pandemic it was one to four or five.

“We’re at the point where too many lives are in danger, where it’s literally a crisis situation,” Ettipio said.

In response, a Catholic Health spokesperson said it’s bargaining in good faith and it’s inconceivable that the union would lead essential healthcare workers on strike during a pandemic.

The hospital system said shortages are the result of nationwide supply-chain issues.

Catholic Health also said, “The union’s inflammatory rhetoric around ongoing negotiations with our hospitals and the threat of a strike with no clear end date is contributing unnecessarily to the stress of 2,000 Mercy Hospital associates.”

“The negations are almost as if they can’t hear what we’re saying,” Ettipio said.

Mercy Hospital healthcare workers said there were issues before the pandemic, but covid-19 made those problems even worse. Catholic Health said Mercy Hospital would remain open during a strike. It said it has fully licensed, experienced and vaccinated temporary replacement nurses and staff on deck.

“There are absolutely no replacements that they can bring in that would do the job our members would do,” CWA area leader Debora Hayes said.

Healthcare workers at Mercy Hospital said they will continue to negotiate throughout these ten days in order to prevent a strike but said the number of open proposals at this time is alarming.