CWA members on the picket line are hopeful a tentative deal with Catholic Health in within reach

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – After more than a month into CWA’s strike outside Mercy Hospital, union members say they’re hopeful both sides are closer to striking a deal.

“We’re hoping that we come to a tentative agreement by the end of the week, because even by the end of the week it’ll still take time for us to get back in the door,” said Jessica Maxwell, who works in environmental services at Mercy Hospital. “People are stressed about having money for holidays. So we’d definitely like to get back to work before it’s December.”

“People are hopeful, very hopeful,” said Kathy Kelly, who’s an RN at Mercy Hospital. “You know we just want to go back and take care of our patients do what we do best. It’s not walking the picket line that’s for sure, we’ve learned a lot out here but that’s not what we do and we just want to take care of our patients.”

CWA Union members are still keeping the picket lines strong outside Mercy Hospital, 35 days after their walkout.

Catholic Health and CWA say the last item remaining on the bargaining table is staffing ratios.

“We haven’t been at the bargaining table in three days so for them to go back today, that’s definitely a good sign,” Maxwell said. “Hopefully we can get those staffing ratios. That was the last thing unresolved.”

“If that were to happen tonight, I figured we won’t start meeting until the weekend, because they have to get that ready and prepare for people to see it, and then voting will take at least two days,” Kelly said. “Earliest I’m thinking we’ll go back in is probably next Wednesday or Thursday, you know if everything works out.”

Catholic Health says the contract it presented to the union is fair and offers a long-term solution to the staffing crisis, but the union is confident Catholic Health will meet them on their request of having no more than four patients per nurse.

“The patients who are admitted to a hospital are so acutely ill, it’s worse than it’s ever been, because you can’t come in to a hospital unless you’re practically on your death bed. I hate to say it that way but that’s what it is.” Kelly said. “In order for us to care for them properly you go to five patients and it’s almost impossible to do that.”

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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