As potential strike looms, union representing workers at South Buffalo Mercy Hospital releases employee survey
A survey of workers reveals their belief that patent security is threatened by staff shortages fueled by low wages and staff turnover.
BUFFALO, NY – They’ve already authorized a strike on Oct. 1 unless they get a new contract they feel is fair.
Now, the union representing some 2,000 nurses and staff at the South Buffalo Mercy Hospital has released the results of an employee survey, which it says shows just how serious the situation is at that hospital and in other areas. others led by Catholic health.
The union says the high turnover among employees, who have been on the front lines during the now 18-month-old pandemic, is fueled by severe staff shortages that are now affecting the quality of patient care.
CWA says its survey of 500 Catholic health workers finds 98% of them think their hospital is struggling to retain staff due to staff shortages and low pay
The survey, conducted primarily with nurses in South Buffalo Mercy, also found that 90 percent of those surveyed believed Catholic Health had not taken adequate action to address the staff shortage,
According to the survey, 70% said they had seen patients neglected or suffered needlessly due to a lack of staff, and 57% of respondents said they had been forced to do a job they had not been trained for due to ‘a lack of staff.
In addition: 75% have considered quitting smoking, 70% said their facility does not have the equipment and supplies necessary to properly fulfill their role, and only 10% report that patients receive the quality care they receive. they need.
Catholic health responds
For its part, Catholic Health has said it is trying to hire, but notes that it is not alone amid a nationwide labor shortage, especially in the area of health workers. health care.
According to Catholic Health’s director of public relations, JoAnn Cavanaugh.
“We have traveled the country and beyond to make sure we have enough PPE for associates, paid a risk premium longer than any other local health system, and launched a robust resilience program to support our team. We have made every effort to recruit the necessary staff in an extremely difficult job market, hiring nearly 1,200 new associates, including 230 registered nurses, since the start of the year.
Catholic Health also says its competitive advantage would be compromised by introducing staffing ratios into contract negotiations, as the union is proposing.
Union officials and workers said on Tuesday that a strike is the last thing they want, but feel they have no other alternative to address their ongoing grievances.
They also note that employees have already approved a 15-month extension of their existing contract and worked during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic under conditions which they say have persisted and have only worsened.
When it comes to the amount currently offered to them to sign a new deal, workers say that between soaring inflation and what they would pay more for their own health care, it creates a situation where they will actually experience a cut salary.
They also argue that under such circumstances it would be even more difficult to attract other people to take on health care jobs.
Union officials say despite several negotiation sessions, they and Catholic Health are still far from reaching a deal, which the hospital system has also confirmed.
In a statement, Cavanaugh said negotiations continued on a daily basis.
“Both sides need to focus at the table this week and work together to find common ground or common ground. Based on our costs, we’re at nearly $ 100 million one of the other.”