BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — An agreement was not reached, and so, CWA workers at Mercy Hospital began striking Friday morning at 6 a.m.
According to Catholic Health, “Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, Kenmore Mercy Hospital, and St. Joseph Campus were unable to reach an agreement with CWA for six labor contracts covering approximately 2,200 registered nurses and service, technical and clerical associates.”
The union’s contract expired on Thursday. Prior to this, 97 percent of union members voted to strike if a new deal was not made.
As the strike began, chants and the sounds of car horns filled the air as hundreds of people walked up and down the sidewalk in front of Catholic Health.
This past Tuesday, Catholic Health and CWA said they were still “millions of dollars apart” in contract negotiations. While these talks were happening, union leaders told News 4 that a strike was their last resort, but they felt as if they were at “rock bottom.”
“We have been talking to Catholic Health about this literally for months and months,” CWA Upstate NY Area Director Debbie Hayes, said. “It’s only because they have been unwilling to listen to our members’ voices and to the concerns we’ve raised on behalf of our members that we’re in this situation.”
Shortly after the strike began on Friday morning, Catholic Health President and CEO Mark Sullivan discussed plans to maintain certain services at Mercy Hospital while the strike is happening.
“When the union left the bargaining table, they told us they were going on strike,” Sullivan said. “We have activated the community response. That includes replacement workers that are certified professionals to come into the building and take care of our patients during the strike.”
Gabrielle Mediak is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.