Catholic Health and CWA reach tentative agreement

State News

(WIVB) – Catholic Health and the CWA have reached an agreement for a new four-year contract covering 2,700 workers in the system, both organizations announced Thursday night.

The CWA says that if the contract is ratified by members who work at Mercy Hospital, Kenmore Mercy Hospital, and St. Joseph’s Hospital, the 35-day strike at Mercy will end and workers will return to their jobs.

Meetings to go over and vote on the contract will be held on Saturday and Sunday, with the goal of bringing workers back to their jobs by Wednesday, a Thursday night press release from the CWA says.

CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor and Area Director Debora Hayes released this statement Thursday night:

“We are very pleased with the tentative contract agreement we have reached with Catholic Health System. We have stressed from day one that frontline workers’ overriding concerns are sufficient staffing to ensure high-quality patient care, and a compensation package adequate to allow Catholic Health to attract and retain the staff needed to obtain staffing improvements. This contract achieves those major objectives, with historic breakthroughs in guaranteed safe staffing ratios, substantial across the board wage increases, including bringing all workers above $15 an hour, and preserving health and retirement plans intact. Hundreds of new workers will be hired under this agreement to remedy dire staffing shortages. 

Our members, the frontline nurses, technical, service and clerical workers at Catholic Health, made incredible sacrifices over the last five weeks to stand up for high quality patient care in Buffalo, and this tentative agreement is a tremendous victory that sets new standards in care for the region. We salute the determination and fighting spirit of our members, whose commitment has produced an outcome that will be completely transformative for patients, workers and the Buffalo community.”

Catholic Health says that Kenmore Mercy has a plan to restore services that have been suspended during the strike, and will start providing updates in the next few days.

Mercy Hospital has a comprehensive plan to restore services that were temporarily suspended during the strike and will be providing updates in the coming days.

“We listened to our associates and their primary concerns were market-competitive wages and increased staffing,” said Mark Sullivan, President & CEO of Catholic Health. “These new contracts address both and more. We are ready to welcome our caregivers back to Mercy Hospital.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul released a statement after the tentative deal was reached, saying she “was proud to stand with the health care workers.”

“No one has put more on the line during this pandemic than those on the front line, and I was proud to stand with the health care workers at Mercy Hospital earlier this month in their fight for the wages, protections, and benefits worthy of the life-saving work they’ve done.

“I have spoken to both parties several times since the beginning of the strike, and my team has been in constant contact with the workers as well as hospital management working toward tonight’s resolution.

“This contract could be a national model for recognizing our health care workers, and I urge both sides to make their agreement permanent as soon as possible so that together, Mercy Hospital and its workers can continue to play their critical role in servicing and caring for the Buffalo community.” 

Gov. Kathy Hochul

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