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Catholic Health: no common ground found with union workers

Negotiations continued this weekend between Catholic Health and the union representing hospital workers. Just over a week ago, union workers voted to strike.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Negotiations continued this weekend between Catholic Health and the union representing hospital workers.

Just over a week ago, union workers voted to strike, citing understaffing and safety issues.

In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Catholic Health said they and CWA union leaders could not find common ground. Catholic health added that 11 days remain before six contracts covering about 2,500 associates expire.

CWA union leader Debora Hayes told 2 On Your Side, “Catholic Health’s refusal to offer a fair contract, while paying executives millions of dollars, has pushed our system to the breaking point and will continue to jeopardize the health and well-being of our patients."

When CWA Local 1133 members voted to authorize a strike, 97 percent of the people who voted said they were in favor of the strike. They are required to give 10-days of notice to the state and the hospital so they have time to prepare and potentially deal with staffing issues.

If an agreement is not reached, employees could go on strike starting October 1.

In its statement, Catholic Health said:

"Catholic Health hospitals worked through the weekend with CWA leaders to find common ground on several contract matters. Union leaders, however, continue to signal they may lead Mercy Hospital associates on strike, a move 25 state and local politicians have said would be a 'disaster' given the ongoing pandemic. The union is signaling the strike would be over staffing ratios and to protect patient care."

"Introducing staffing ratios to the contract during a national labor shortage, as the union is proposing, will not create a competitive advantage for Catholic Health hospitals nor will it help recruit and retain nurses and other health care workers."

Union leader Debora Hayes responded with the following statement:

“Catholic Health’s refusal to offer a fair contract, while paying executives millions of dollars, has pushed our system to the breaking point and will continue to jeopardize the health and well-being of our patients. At the heart of our contract negotiations is the need to provide quality patient care. Yet this cannot be possible if Catholic Health refuses to address the low wages and staffing shortages that are causing workers to quit each week. We need staffing ratios that ensure workers have the support they need and patients receive the care they deserve."

State and local politicians are hoping both parties can come to an agreement sooner than later and say a strike would be a "disaster," especially in the midst of a pandemic.