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November 1 marks week 5 of the Mercy Hospital strike

Catholic Health announced Sunday its pausing health benefits coverage for striking associates until a deal can be reached.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Mercy Hospital strike continues as it heads into week five.

After a weekend of negotiating at the bargaining table, on Sunday, Catholic Health announced its pausing health benefits coverage for striking associates until a deal can be reached. 

The hospital system has been providing coverage for the past month, which is not legally required. In a press release sent out Sunday afternoon, Catholic Health said, "We began sending notices today. Catholic Health will resume payment and administration upon ratification of the tentative agreement by the membership." 

The hospital says it stands by its current offer on the table, calling it 'fair' with competitive wages, benefits, and progressive staffing. Meanwhile, CWA leaders have a different interpretation.

Dennis Trainor, Vice President of CWA District One, released a statement in response to news that CWA members participating in the strike would be losing benefits, saying in part this is a "blatant attempt to intimidate the workers into ending their strike before a fair agreement is reached," Trainor said. "It won't work, just like all of Catholic Health's other threats up until now."

Staffing is still a major topic of contention at the bargaining table.

While Catholic Health says they're giving CWA a "strong long-term solution" when it comes to staffing, union leaders say the hospital system is going backward in terms of negotiations. 

Catholic Health says an agreement was within reach, but it appears, as November begins, that isn't the case - at least just yet. 

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