BUFFALO, N.Y. — After a month-long strike at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, Catholic Health is discontinuing health benefits for union workers until a new contract is agreed upon.
Catholic Health officials say they told the CWA's union leadership last Monday it would suspend those benefits if a tentative agreement was not reached by Oct. 30, and that it would resume payment and administration once union members ratified an agreement.
Catholic Health says after two days of negotiations, talks with the CWA broke down Sunday morning over staffing levels.
They claim the union is risking a deal affecting 2,500 workers over just a few specific hospital units.
The vice president of CWA District One, Dennis Trainor, previously said Catholic Health is trying to go backward on staffing and their proposal would create ratios in surgical units that would be unsafe for staff and patients.
“Catholic Health knows its allegations can’t be taken seriously when it calls us healthcare heroes in one breath and dangerous in the next," Trainor said. "Bargaining continues to be productive, and we are hopeful that a resolution is on the horizon. The reality is that Catholic Health is trying to go backward on staffing, and its proposal would create ratios in medical-surgical units that are worse than the current management-created staffing grids. We are ready to put this strike behind us and get back to work, and as soon as Catholic Health agrees to staffing ratios that are safe for staff and patients, we can do that.”
“It’s getting to be winter time. More kids are going to be getting sick. And the families, they’re depending on that,” said Karen Mahoney, registered nurse. “I don’t know what he was thinking. It’s a shame.”
“We’re still out here,” said Diane Peach, environmental services at Mercy Hospital. “So if we’re still out here, it's not that good. Hopefully, you know, they will give us what we’re asking for, so we can all go back there and be there for our patients.”