Catholic Health: Nearly 50 nurses have resigned since Mercy Hospital strike began

Amid a strike at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo (N.Y.) that entered its fourth week Oct. 22, Catholic Health said it extended its agreement for replacement workers and that nearly 50 nurses have resigned from the hospital since the strike began, including more than 12 intensive care unit nurses, according to The Buffalo News.

"Catholic Health shares the sentiments of our community, patients and families — we want our associates back at Mercy Hospital," Catholic Health spokesperson JoAnn Cavanaugh said in a news release shared with Becker's. "The longer the strike goes on, however, we will need to consider all of our options."

Ms. Cavanaugh said the decision to extend the agreement with the strike replacement agency was made Oct. 22 to ensure the daily care of about 100 inpatients and 100 emergency patients at Mercy Hospital and the Mercy Ambulatory Care Center. As of the afternoon of Oct. 23, 95 patients were receiving care at Mercy Hospital.

Regarding the loss of staff, that will "only exacerbate the staffing challenges the parties have been trying to resolve in negotiations," Ms. Cavanaugh said.

Members of Communications Workers of America, which represents about 2,000 front-line workers at Mercy Hospital, began the strike Oct. 1, citing concerns about staffing and patient care.

Throughout negotiations, Communications Workers of America has sought an agreement with adequate wages to attract and retain staff, and a contract that guarantees adequate staffing and care levels.

Ms. Cavanaugh said the hospital still has "an incredibly generous, competitive offer" that addresses pay, benefits and staffing.

She said there has been progress recently in negotiations on contract language about pharmacy benefits, prescription co-pays and overtime pay. However, both sides have yet to reach an agreement.

Dennis Trainor, vice president of Communications Workers of America District 1, said in a statement shared with Becker's that the union wants the strike to end and "continues to engage in hard bargaining to achieve our members' key goals."

Communications Workers of America Area Director Debora Hayes added: "Catholic Health still does not realize that this strike has been entirely driven by the concerns and determination of its own workforce, not by CWA union officials, and members are determined to strike as long as it takes to achieve a fair agreement."

More details about negotiations are available here

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