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CWA workers at Catholic Health vote to authorize a strike

The workers at the bargaining table are from South Buffalo Mercy, Kenmore Mercy, and Sisters of Charity Hospital on the St. Joseph Campus.

CWA union nurses and other staff working for Catholic Health have voted to authorize a strike.

The union is concerned about staffing shortages and working conditions for nurses, technologists, and other health workers.

CWA says the strike could happen as early as October 1 when their contract is set to expire, but no official date has been set yet.

Maureen Kryszak is a registered nurse at South Buffalo Mercy.

"Right now our employees, our members are pretty strong on standing behind the bargaining committee and supporting us on our decisions. They want to go on strike based on the lack of movement. We're fighting for wages, and safe staffing, and to retain our pension," Kryszak said.

The workers at the bargaining table are from South Buffalo Mercy, Kenmore Mercy, and Sisters of Charity Hospital on the St. Joseph Campus.

"We have worked through the trenches of hell for the last two years, and the respect for us has gone down," Kryszak said.

If there is a strike, it would only be at South Buffalo Mercy.

Catholic Health released the following statement Friday morning:

"Thanks to strong leadership and the hard work of our entire healthcare team, Catholic Health remains the area leader in quality, patient safety, and overall patient satisfaction as evidenced by the latest CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) Hospital Compare star ratings and independent Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades.

"We are disappointed CWA Local 1133 is threatening to strike at Mercy Hospital. It is unconscionable the union would take registered nurses and other crucial healthcare workers away from patients’ bedsides and out of our hospital to walk the picket line while COVID-19 cases continue to rise in our community.

"Mercy Hospital will remain open and operational if CWA Local 1133 decides to lead associates on strike. A multi-disciplinary team at Mercy Hospital has developed a comprehensive strike contingency plan that includes hiring fully licensed, highly experienced, vaccinated temporary replacement nurses and other qualified staff who will provide uninterrupted care to our patients.

"Many Mercy Hospital associates have been quietly expressing dissatisfaction with their union’s actions and rhetoric against their hospital. They are feeling pressured by CWA leaders and fear union retaliation for challenging its handling of negotiations and threatening to strike. Others have shared  frustration with CWA that the strike pay it may provide during a strike is only a fraction of the money they would earn caring for patients and performing their jobs.

"Mercy Hospital remains committed to bargaining in good faith with our associates’ union to settle these contract without further delay or disruption as we did recently with the SEIU for other contacts at St. Joseph Campus and two of our long-term care facilities. 

"With nearly three weeks until the contracts expire on September 30, we believe there is sufficient time to reach fair, market-competitive contracts that will allow us to continue providing safe, high-quality care and service to our patients and competitive wages and benefits to recruit and retain the best associates at Mercy Hospital."