BUFFALO, N.Y. — Catholic Health’s Mercy Hospital is suspending labor and delivery services as it braces for workers to strike Friday, Oct. 1 amid contract negotiations for those represented by CWA Local 1133.
The hospital announced a series of cuts to its services in preparation for low staffing, including sending labor and delivery patients to other facilities, diverting ambulances and suspending inpatient elective surgeries.
According to CWA, workers face “unacceptable conditions'' such as overflowing trash receptacles, broken infrastructure, and a lack of washcloths, linens, EKG leads, gauze and gloves. CWA also said staff members are working long hours without breaks and CVICU nurses are taking on as many as three critical patients at a time who need around-the-clock services.
Both parties have been part of ongoing negotiations, some lasting as long as 12 hours at a time, but Catholic Health said the parties are still “tens of millions of dollars apart.”
CWA sent a letter to Mercy Hospital President and CEO Mark Sullivan on Wednesday morning, urging him to present a new contract that will ensure the attraction and retention of staff, signed by 33 local organizations.
CWA Local 1133 said its union workers will strike on Oct. 1 at 6:00 a.m. if they are not presented with a fair contract that promises better wages, working conditions and staffing ratios by Sept. 30.
Only Mercy Hospital workers will be going on strike because their contract ends Sept. 30.
Other Catholic Health hospitals plan to operate as normal as they do not have union contracts expiring at this time.