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New Television Ad Sheds Light on Dire Situation at Catholic Health that Led Hospital Workers to Strike

27 Oct, 2021

For Immediate Release: October 26, 2021

Rendy Desamours, 516.406.6637
Logan Needle, 561.212-4165 (on-site at picket line)

New Television Ad Sheds Light on Dire Situation at Catholic Health that Led Hospital Workers to Strike

As the strike enters its fourth full week, workers urge community: “Tell Catholic Health to support frontline workers and put patient care first” 

BUFFALO, NY -- Today CWA Local 1133, which has been on strike at Mercy Hospital in South Buffalo since October 1  over a severe staffing shortage, released  a television advertisement featuring healthcare workers’ plea for support in their fight to protect patient care and safety. You can view the ad here.

“Nobody’s healthcare should suffer because their hospital refuses to hire enough staff, or won’t provide workers with enough supplies, but that’s exactly what Catholic Health has been doing for years,” workers said in the ad.

“We’re terrified for our patients because Catholic Health won’t give us the resources that we need to do our jobs, all while their top administrators make millions. Enough is enough,” they added.

Healthcare workers across hospital jobs were featured, including an environmental service worker, a radiologic technologist, a certified nursing assistant and registered nurses.

The ad started airing Tuesday on television stations across Buffalo.

In response to a press conference held by Catholic Health CEO Mark Sullivan this afternoon, CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor said, “It’s disheartening to hear Catholic Health is considering taking away the healthcare benefits of its frontline workers who got Buffalo through the pandemic, but I want to remind our members that through CWA’s relief fund, anyone with chronic conditions in need of care or those facing health emergencies will be taken care of. These workers want the strike to end more than anything, but they are also determined to stand up for their patients and the community to ensure Catholic Health doesn’t get into the same staffing crisis again and again. These workers stand more united in our union than ever and believe what they are doing is in the best interests of patients’ safety and quality of care.”

Over the weekend Melissa Piechowicz, a respiratory therapist at Mercy Hospital since 2013, said on the picket line, “The staffing issue is not new, we have asked for this to be taken care of many times. It has only gotten worse through the pandemic.”

“In order to fix our safe staffing issue, we must have incentives to bring people in. Nobody wants to come work for the bottom dollar,” she said. “Right now, we are the lowest paid hospital in the area. It doesn’t matter what position you are in -- whether you are cleaning, transporting, or a nurse -- you’re getting paid lower than every other position in Buffalo.”

“Recently before the strike, we had just five respiratory therapists including myself to cover the entire hospital. That’s not safe. We put so much on the line, and we haven’t seen anything sacrificed for us,” she added.

Approximately 2,000 CWA-represented nurses, technical, service and clerical staff employed by Catholic Health System have been on strike since October 1 over a staffing crisis and deteriorating patient care and safety. Workers have been picketing 24-hours a day in front of Mercy Hospital to call on Catholic Health to settle a fair contract that puts patients first, and have been joined on the picket line by elected representatives including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, New York Attorney General Leticia James, and numerous other New York State Senators and Representatives.

While contract negotiations are continuing, with the CWA bargaining committee working diligently to reach a fair contract agreement and citing progress being made, Catholic Health has yet to meet workers’ demands for iron-clad safe staffing ratios and fair market wages that will attract and retain desperately needed staff -- the very issues that fueled Catholic Health workers to strike.