Staff Strike at Hospital in Buffalo After Contract Talks Break Down

Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) labor union at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, New York, went on strike on Friday morning, October 1, after contract talks with employer Catholic Health broke down.

The CWA – a diverse union that represents not only the communications field but also health care, manufacturing, and other sectors – said the workers were “fighting for safe staffing so they can care for patients.”

Mercy Hospital said in a statement on Thursday, September 30, that it had proposed contract provisions to the CWA that it believed were fair, provided “market-competitive wages and benefits,” and addressed staffing concerns. The CWA rejected those proposals and said its decision to strike marked a “somber day for Catholic Health and health care workers.”

A flyer announcing the strike was disseminated by CWA union members on Thursday. Members starting work at Mercy Hospital at 6 am Friday were instructed to stage an immediate walkout.

A Facebook page called CHS Workers United, which is operated by CWA members at Catholic Health facilities, provided updates on the negotiations and the strike action. “This contract fight is about more than just our members,” a post on Thursday said. “It’s about patient care, about patient safety, and about making sure that our community – our family, friends, and neighbors – is healthy, strong, and gets the BEST care possible. Currently, we simply can’t do that with how dire conditions have gotten at our hospitals,” CHS Workers United continued.

The strikers received support from local elected officials, including Buffalo South District Councilman Christopher P Scanlon, who called them “courageous men and women,” and New York State Senator Timothy Kennedy, who said he was “the proud son of a nurse” and supported the workers’ “fight for a fair contract.”

As the strike began at 6 am on Friday, Mercy Hospital said it remained open and that “licensed, experienced temporary nurses and qualified health care workers” were helping to care for patients. Credit: CWA via Storyful

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