BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The rain didn’t keep Mercy Hospital employees away from the picket line Sunday. The CWA strike is now well within its third day and there’s still no end in sight.

CWA officials say they repeatedly let Catholic Health know they’d be at the bargaining table at 10 a.m. Sunday, but they say Catholic Health never showed up.

“It’s ridiculous. Get in the room and start talking to us,” said Debbie Hayes, CWA area director.

“You must come and negotiate this contract. We must get the appropriate caregivers in that building as soon as possible for the patients and the community,” said Cori Gambini, who’s the President of CWA Local.

Officials from Catholic health released a statement saying CWA provided little notice to Catholic Health’s bargaining committee. And that they were willing to meet this morning virtually.

A spokesperson for Catholic health says the company wants, “to reach an agreement that provides a fair contract with market-competitive wages and benefits.”

CWA officials say a virtual meeting is just not going to work and an in-person dialogue is needed.

“We did virtual bargaining for months and it was very clear that it is not an efficient way to settle the problems that we have to talk about,” Hayes said adding that the members want to get back to work as fast as they can, but Catholic Health needs to come to the table in order for that to happen.

“I think the bottom line now is there is only one way for this strike to end and get the legitimate caregivers back inside and that’s for them to come to the bargaining table and start discussions and get this done,” Hayes said.

Catholic Health is also saying that those on strike have been presenting unsafe behavior by yelling at replacement workers.

CWA says tensions are high, people on strike are upset but that it’s not their intention to behave poorly.

Since this strike started Friday morning Kaleida Health officials say they’ve seen a 20 percent increase in the number of patients at their hospitals.

Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.

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