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Catholic Health officials say agreement with CWA Local 1133 is 'within reach'

CWA Local 1133 posted online Sunday morning that it is "very close to reaching an agreement" with Catholic Health.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — As workers continue to picket outside of Mercy Hospital in South Buffalo, Catholic Health officials say they are nearing an agreement with CWA Local 1133.

Workers at Mercy Hospital have been on strike since October 1 after Catholic Health and CWA Local 1133 failed to reach a deal. A spokesperson for Catholic Health says its bargaining committees met with the CWA throughout the weekend to try and reach a deal.

In a press release Catholic Health said in part, "Several times it appeared the parties were close to reaching a tentative agreement, settling negotiations and ending the strike. Discussions for Mercy Hospital associates’ return to work had begun."

A Catholic Health spokesperson went on to say that the hospitals "stand by their offer that would provide associates with fair, competitive wages and benefits, and that includes progressive staffing language."

Catholic Health says it was ready to send striking workers notices on how to continue healthcare coverage but is holding off as a show of good faith. In that same news release, Catholic Health claims the CWA has been using a "series of escalating pressure tactics," which have gotten "nastier" and "dangerous."

"These union actions are intended to pressure employers at the bargaining table, but our patients, long-term care residents, and community know better," said spokesperson JoAnn Cavanaugh. "They see our commitment and compassion and know our mission and reputation for safe, high-quality care was built long before CWA’s strike and will endure long after."

CWA Local 1133 also provided an update Sunday, saying an agreement is close. The CWA says the main outstanding issue is staffing, adding that the union also has concerns about the last proposal from management. 

The CWA posted online that it will be "putting out a comprehensive update and scheduling face to face meetings this week."

Dennis Trainor, vice president of CWA District One, released the following statement Sunday afternoon:

"Catholic Health knows its allegations can’t be taken seriously when it calls us healthcare heroes in one breath and dangerous in the next. Bargaining continues to be productive, and we are hopeful that a resolution is on the horizon. The reality is that Catholic Health is trying to go backward on staffing, and its proposal would create ratios in medical-surgical units that are worse than the current management-created staffing grids. We are ready to put this strike behind us and get back to work, and as soon as Catholic Health agrees to staffing ratios that are safe for staff and patients, we can do that."

2 On Your Side will have more on this story tonight on Channel 2 at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.

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