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Catholic Health CEO optimistic a deal can be reached; union says they're prepared to strike

Catholic Health CEO Mark Sullivan tells 2 On Your Side he's "willing to work with them until we have a deal", However, union officials say they're prepared to strike

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As hospital workers in Buffalo prepare to go on strike, Catholic Health says it has delivered a proposal to the Communication Workers of America that will resolve the dispute before hundreds of employees at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo hit the picket lines at 6 a.m. Friday. 

In his first interview about the dispute, Catholic Health President and CEO Mark Sullivan told 2 On Your Side's Michael Wooten that he thinks the proposal is fair, and that he believes both sides will be able to come to an agreement tonight. 

"Both sides want to have a deal. Both sides have gotten into healthcare because they care about the patients and the community, and a strike puts a wedge between that," Sullivan said. "The point is -- what is it going to take to do that? And we believe the proposal we have on the table now addresses the concerns we heard, and we're willing to work with them until we have a deal."

CWA workers are at odds with the hospital system over staffing, wages, healthcare benefits, and facility cleanliness.

"There are good people at the table from CWA, and there are good people from Catholic Health at the table that want what's right for the associates," Sullivan said. "We believe what we have on the table now meets those needs of fair competitive market wages, good benefits, and starting to address the staffing issues." 

Credit: WGRZ
Catholic Health CEO Mark Sullivan sits down with WGRZ's Michael Wooten

In the event that a deal is not reached, Sullivan confirmed that Catholic Health is spending millions of dollars to hire replacement workers to ensure the hospital stays open and patients are properly cared for.

Workers impacted include nurses, imaging and respiratory specialists, and other patient and general hospital support staff. The union supports over 2,000 members across Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, Kenmore Mercy, and the St. Joseph Campus of Sister's Hospital.

This is a developing story. 

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