CWA members approve new contract with Catholic Health

Catholic Health Hospital Strike

CWA members and Catholic Health have officially reached a deal after members voted yes on a new four-year deal tentative agreement with the hospital. The agreement ends the lengthy strike that started on October 1.

Workers are expected to return to Mercy Hospital as early as Wednesday.

According to the union attorney, the CWA voted 94 percent in favor of the contract.

ORIGINAL:

BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – Workers at Mercy Hospital will soon find out if they’ll be heading back to work this week. CWA members are voting throughout Monday on a tentative agreement with Catholic Health.

Workers tell News 4 that after 35 days on strike, they’re ready to celebrate.

“Champagne bottles opening, at least for me, and I think a lot of members relief, I think some tears, but I think it’s all going to be mostly for joy,” said Jackie Ettipio, who’s the CWA Local 1133 President and RN at Mercy Hospital. “I think people are going to be happy. No matter what, not only did we keep what we had, we improved it.”

After more than a month walking the picket lines outside Mercy Hospital, it all comes down to a vote.

“We’re very excited. We’re thrilled. I can’t believe this day has come. We’ve made history,” said Cheryl Darling who’s an immediate treatment assistant at Mercy Hospital and a member of the bargaining committee.

If enough members vote yes on the tentative agreement, that was reached Thursday night, it will officially end the strike between CWA and the Union.

“I think we were at rock bottom, we saw suffering where suffering should not be and we were just at the point where we said it’s now or never,” Eittpio said. “That’s what we did and we’re pretty happy now.”

The four-year deal with Catholic Health includes raises for each employee, with a minimum of 15 dollars an hour and the staffing ratios CWA has been fighting for.

“I wish there was stronger language somewhere. I wish there was a little more money, but when you look at it, safety is going to be maintained through ratios, that’s going to be for the employee and the patient.” Ettipio said.

The deal promises one worker for every four patients on the medical and surgical floors during the day shifts, and one worker for every five patients at night.

Catholic Health also agrees to hire 250 new employees to help meet those staffing ratios.

“This is the reason we went to strike, to better ourselves and now the new people who get hired behind us won’t have to go through what we went through,” said Diane Peach, who works in environmental services at Mercy Hospital.

Workers at Mercy Hospital in South Buffalo finished voting at noon Monday. The final tally will be released after workers at St. Joe’s Hospital and Kenmore Mercy finish voting at 8 p.m.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

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