Health benefits

Catholic Health suspends health benefits for New York strikers

Catholic Health has informed striking workers at its Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, NY that their health care coverage is on hold until a tentative agreement is reached.

On October 25, Catholic Health announced that it plans to continue with coverage if the strike continues into November.

The health care system told union leaders that if a tentative deal was not reached by October 30, it would start sending notices to employees at Mercy Hospital represented by the union that Catholic Health would stop paying. and administer their health insurance coverage, Catholic Health said in a statement. press release shared with Becker.

Catholic Health said it began sending out notices on Oct. 31 and would resume payment and administration once members of the Communications Workers of America approve a tentative deal.

“Catholic Health hospitals have been negotiating in good faith with CWA since February 2021. We worked with CWA all weekend and late into the night. [Oct. 29 and Oct. 30]. On several occasions it appeared that the parties were on the verge of reaching an agreement in principle, settling the negotiations and ending the strike, ”Catholic Health said in a press release. “Discussions for the return to work of Mercy Hospital associates had begun. Around 6 a.m. [Oct. 31], talks broke down again. A key sticking point that delayed reaching an agreement… remained the staffing of a few specific units. “

In a statement shared with Becker, Dennis Trainor, vice president of Communications Workers of America District 1, called the announcement of the suspension of health benefits for strikers “a blatant attempt to intimidate workers into ending their strike before a fair deal is found. It will not work, like all of Catholic Health’s other threats so far. “

Mr Trainor said on October 31 that a national relief fund for union members contained $ 425 million and that as of this week the union’s weekly allowances for strikers were increased to $ 400, in plus the New York State unemployment benefits for which they qualify.

“The [fund] will also ensure that no striker faces financial hardship for a medical or dental emergency of any kind, and that medical care for chronic illnesses is continued, “he added.

The Communications Workers of America – which represent approximately 2,500 workers at the Mercy Hospital, Kenmore (NY) Mercy Hospital and Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus, in Buffalo – began the strike on October 1, citing concerns over staff. and patient care.

Throughout the negotiations, the union said it sought an agreement with adequate wages to attract and retain staff and a contract to ensure adequate staffing and care levels.

Catholic Health said its hospitals have offered a competitive package in the market with phased staffing and other contractual clauses based on what the union said are workers’ priorities.

Catholic Health also accused union members of using pressure tactics during the strike.