Mercy Hospital CWA workers hold candlelight vigil on seventh day of strike

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Hundreds of CWA Mercy Hospital workers wrapped around the outside of Mercy Hospital picketing Thursday as the Catholic Health strike stretched into day seven.

Thursday’s picket included a candlelight vigil that CWA workers say is a show of support for the patients admitted to the hospital. Representatives from the New York State United Teachers and United Auto Workers were also on-site as a show of support.

Catholic Health and CWA leaders have been meeting at the bargaining table but have not struck a deal both sides can agree on.

CWA is pushing for staffing ratios and increased pay for low-wage workers above $15 per hour. Catholic Health’s current proposal promises 250 new positions, increases staffing above ten percent of the daily average census and provides bonus pay to workers who pick up extra shifts if the hospital isn’t hitting its staffing benchmarks.

In a release to News 4, Catholic Health says CWA leaders have been more focused on picketing than reaching a deal.

Catholic Health’s Director of Public Relations JoAnn Cavanaugh said, “Throughout these negotiations, union leaders have coordinated pickets, rallies, and press conferences, rather than having a sense of urgency to get our associates back to work.”

“We have a very good offer on the table that addresses staffing, provides competitive wages, and maintains existing benefits. That’s what the union should be sharing with their members.”

During strike, Catholic Health says expectant moms can go to their other local hospitals

Mercy Hospital nurse Kathy Kelly told us she doesn’t have the time to provide the individual care she would like to patients because of the number of other patients she tends to at once.

“Staff-to-patient ratio, we can better care for our patients the way we want to. We want to treat them like our family because a lot of them are our families. And we just don’t have the time for them because you have nine or ten patients sometimes. You just can’t give the individual care that you want to give, you know, as a nurse after 38 years,” said Kathy Kelly, Mercy Hospital worker.

The union has said they’re committed to striking as long as it takes to reach an agreement.

News 4 reporter Marlee Tuskes

Patrick Ryan is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here.

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