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MERCY SEEKS TO CLOSE BUDGET GAP

Mercy Hospital administrators will meet Monday to seek ways to close a multimillion dollar budget gap after a union representing registered nurses rejected a package of wage cuts and concessions in a close vote Friday.

Although another bargaining unit of service, technical and clerical employees ratified the contract, administrators say the nurses' rejection leaves a big hole in the budget for the South Buffalo hospital.

"We have some plans in place, but it's a bit more complicated with the split vote," said Karen Dryja-Swierski, the hospital's marketing director.

Hospital officials had predicted that layoffs were almost certain to occur because of the vote but have agreed to delay them until after the holidays.

Barbara Bauch, president of Local 1133, Communication Workers of America, the parent of both bargaining units, said she felt her members were troubled by high pay and perks given administrators while they were asked to take pay cuts and concessions.

"As they unravel their plan," she said, "we're going to have to see how it affects our members and hospital services."

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