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Kenmore Mercy Hospital nurses working without a contract

WBFO News photo by Chris Caya

It's back to the bargaining table Wednesday for Kenmore Mercy Hospital and the union representing its Registered Nurses. The nurses voted down their latest offer and are working without a contract.  

An overwhelming majority of Kenmore Mercy's RNs voted down a tentative agreement two weeks ago. To show their displeasure, dozens of nurses and members of other unions picketed in front of the Elmwood Avenue hospital in Tonawanda Tuesday.

CWA Local 1133 Chief Steward Deborah Arnet says management wants the RNs to make concessions on wages and benefits after posting more than a $3.8 million profit last year. 

On top of that, Arnet says they're working short-staffed.

"When you're working short it makes it very, very hard to do your job and do it well," said Arnet.

With the government using patient satisfaction scores to determine reimbursement rates, Arnet says The Affordable Care Act could end up hurting Kenmore Mercy's bottom line.

"So if our...scores go down, our reimbursement to the hospital goes down, and that's a very real risk," said Arnet.

Depending on what management presents Wednesday, Arnet says it's not too soon to start thinking about a strike vote.