Tens of thousands of Kaiser Permanente workers, represented by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, are preparing to go on strike for three days this week. This strike could become the largest healthcare strike in the nation’s history if an agreement is not reached by Wednesday. The workers are demanding solutions to the Kaiser short-staffing crisis.
The strike will involve workers at Kaiser hospitals and clinics in California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The union represents approximately 19,000 Kaiser workers in the Bay Area, including various healthcare professionals such as licensed vocational nurses, technicians, representatives, and therapists. In a show of solidarity, two other unions consisting of 14,000 members have also authorized a sympathy strike.
Negotiations between Kaiser and the union have been ongoing since April, addressing various issues, including wage increases, starting salaries, hiring practices, and workforce development. The union argues that Kaiser has reported billions in profits in recent years, while proposing cuts to performance bonuses and outsourcing jobs to low-wage companies. Kaiser counters that they have offered across-the-board wage increases, a minimum wage of $21 per hour, and continued health benefits and retirement plans.
In an effort to find common ground, the two sides have reached tentative agreements in four key areas, including travel for education, the use of temporary workers, staff vacancy tracking, and dispute resolution. Kaiser maintains that progress has been made and they are committed to bargaining in earnest. However, they are also prepared for a potential strike and have contingency plans in place to ensure continued high-quality care for their members.
– Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West
– Kaiser Permanente