Almost a month into strike, Catholic Health considers pulling striking workers health benefits

SOUTH BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Almost a month into the strike at Mercy Hospital, both Catholic Health and the CWA are digging in their heels.

Tuesday marked day 26 of the strike, and with a number of items still open on the bargaining table, Catholic Health CEO Mark Sullivan said the hospital system is looking into strategies if these workers remain on the picket line into November.

“To date, we’ve spent more than 1.3 million dollars providing health benefits to Mercy associates during the strike to ensure they had health benefits for themselves and their families. This was not legally required by Catholic Health,” Sullivan said. “As we approach the second month of the strike, our leadership team must consider whether to continue this coverage.”

Sullivan also said he’s looking into the feasibility of allowing striking employees who want to work to cross the picket line.

In a statement, CWA leaders call it disheartening to hear Catholic Health is considering taking away healthcare benefits for the almost 2,000 workers on strike.

The union is now turning to television advertisements in their fight for a contract. As of Tuesday, the ad is airing on stations across Buffalo.

“We’re terrified for our patients because Catholic Health won’t give us the resources we need to do our jobs,” a registered nurse named Billie said in the ad.

Sullivan said there seems to be no sense of urgency from the union, but CWA leaders say that’s not true, and that their team has been at the bargaining table almost every day since the strike started.

Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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