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New York Attorney General Joins Health Care Workers on Strike at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo

Health care workers picketing outside Mercy Hospital of Buffalo in New York were visited by the state’s Attorney General, Tish James, on Friday, October 15, more than two weeks into a strike over understaffing and wages.

This footage filmed by Delaney Kempner, the director of communications for James, shows the AG – who many media outlets have speculated may soon run for governor – leading a chant outside the hospital.

“The CWA District 1 members put their lives on the line to protect our communities during this pandemic, and they deserve a fair contract, period,” James wrote in a tweet. “I’m proud to join their picket line today at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo to demand real pay, real benefits, and real safety.”

Communications Workers of America (CWA) and Catholic Health resumed bargaining talks over a new master contract on Wednesday morning, CWA District 1 said in a press release.

Mercy Hospital has hired replacement health care workers and security staff during the ongoing strike, prompting concerns from James’s office that Huffmaster, the company providing the services, is not licensed by New York State as an employment agency, according to local reports.

Catholic Health responded in a press release that Huffmaster was “not acting as an employment agency, but rather is using its own employees to provide short-term, emergency nursing and security services.”

The press release said, “As CWA’s strike passes the two-week mark today, Catholic Health maintains it has presented a fair, market-competitive offer on wages and benefits, and addressed the union’s staffing concerns with a progressive staffing proposal.”

CWA members had not accepted Catholic Health’s latest proposal as of October 12. Credit: Delaney Kempner via Storyful

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