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Mercy Management, Union Agree on New Contract

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – Service, technical and clerical workers at Buffalo's Mercy Hospital will not be going on strike. A tentative contract agreement between their union and hospital management was reached during the pre-dawn hours Tuesday.

Local 1133 of the Communications Workers of America represents some 1,100 Mercy workers. In their last contract several years ago, the workers accepted concessions. This time, the union was saying no more.

Union vice president Kathy Kelly would not disclose any details about the new agreement. But she did seem pleased.

"We feel it's fair and equitable to employees," Kelly said. "We feel it brings us closer to where we need to be. We are going to be recommending it for ratification."

The ratification vote is scheduled for July 1st.

Last week, rank-and-file workers had authorized their negotiators to set a strike date if the talks broke off. Kelly said she believes that put pressure on hospital management. But Mercy spokesman Joe Martone said he doesn't believe that's the case.

"I think we took this seriously from the beginning," Martone said. "We started negotiations in early March, and we met for a series of 17 or 18 meetings. We made progress in each session, but it was a very complex contract. We had a lot to go through. Fortunately, we got it done Tuesday morning."

Local 1133's Kathy Kelly said the Mercy workers will be receiving details of the contract in the next few days.