About 2,000 nurses, X-ray technicians and medical support workers who belong to Communications Workers of America Local 1133 went on strike at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, New York, Oct. 1. Hundreds massed outside cheered as fellow workers on duty streamed out of the hospital at 6 a.m.
“We’ve made it very clear that staffing and bad working conditions are concern No. 1,” CWA Area Director Debora Hayes told the press. Just before the strike deadline, Catholic Health, which owns the hospital, presented a new staffing proposal, but it was “too little, too late,” Hayes said.
On the first morning of the strike, chanting pickets surrounded vans with scabs from Huffmaster, which boasts that it provides “single-source strike staffing solutions.” Huffmaster recently provided scabs used by bosses in the Nabisco bakery workers strike.
“The working conditions inside the hospital are the worst we’ve ever seen and this whistle has been blown to them before COVID. COVID only heightened it,” Peg Campbell, a nurse for 30 years at Mercy, told Spectrum News.
“Our patients don’t deserve the treatment that they’re getting,” said medical assistant Rhonda Pierce. “We take an oath to care for people, and we need to, and our administrator needs to know that our patients come first.”
The strike is winning widespread solidarity. Many unions — including the Teachers Federation, United Auto Workers, Workers United, Letter Carriers, Teamsters and firefighters — small business owners and other working people and students have been joining picket lines and bringing food and water for the strikers.
Send donations and messages of support to CWA Local 1133, 821 Elk St., Buffalo, NY 14210.