Sarah Hughes

Two thousand nurses, clerical workers, technologists, and service workers have walked out of Mercy Health in Buffalo, New York, in an open-ended strike over the hiring and retention of workers throughout the hospital.

At 6 a.m. on October 1, the sky just starting to lighten, an already full picket line cheered the night shift workers flooding out the front doors to take a stand against Catholic Health System (CHS), which owns Mercy Hospital of Buffalo and two other hospitals in the area.

A terrifying scene unfolded the evening of August 1 at Cascade Behavioral Health Center in Tukwila, a suburb of Seattle. A volatile patient had stolen a badge and set of keys from an employee and was running between treatment units for mental health and addiction, taunting patients, vandalizing offices, making lewd comments, touching female staff and patients, and lashing out at attempts to restrain him.

A “Code Gray” was called—a signal for staff to rush to help restrain the man before he could hurt himself or others.

On the same day that their employer announced it had made more than $400 million in profits during the Covid-19 pandemic, the nurses of St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, declared their intention to strike.

“St. V’s” is part of the Dallas-based Tenet Health—one of the largest and most profitable for-profit hospital corporations in the country. It is refusing to back down on the number one issue for nurses: safe staffing ratios.

As of this writing, close to 90 percent of the 800 nurses have been on strike since March 8.