BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Friday morning at 6 a.m., hundreds of CWA workers went on strike after the union and Catholic Health were unable to make a deal.
“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,” Catholic Health said on Friday morning.
The union’s contract expired on Thursday. Prior to this, 97 percent of union members voted to strike if a new deal was not reached.
As recently as 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.”
Once the strike got underway, chants and the sounds of car horns filled the air as hundreds of people walked up and down the sidewalk in front of Mercy Hospital in south Buffalo.
Not long after the strike began, 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.”
Those replacement workers Sullivan mentioned were met with chants of “Go home!” as they attempted to get into Mercy Hospital on Friday morning.