Nearly 4,000 healthcare workers in the Washington, D.C. region have voted to approve a strike at Kaiser Permanente. The workers, who are part of OPEIU Local 2, are protesting against what they claim are unfair labor practices. Union officials have cited under-staffing, a decline in patient care, and inadequate wages that do not match the high cost of living as key concerns driving their decision to strike.
Katrina Schaetz, an OB-GYN Clinical Assistant, expressed frustration over the lack of response from Kaiser executives. She stated, “We’ve been raising the alarm about patient safety, but Kaiser isn’t hearing us. Kaiser executives keep refusing to listen to frontline healthcare workers on the issues that impact the care of our patients, and they’re violating the law by failing to bargain in good faith.”
The union has set a deadline for reaching an agreement with Kaiser. If no resolution is reached by September 30, the healthcare workers are prepared to go on strike. This action follows a similar move by more than 65,000 SEIU healthcare workers in Colorado, California, Oregon, and Washington who have also voted to authorize a strike at Kaiser Permanente in the past two weeks.
Under-staffing in healthcare facilities can lead to increased workloads for employees and compromise patient care. Inadequate wages can also contribute to staff shortages, as healthcare professionals seek better opportunities elsewhere. By going on strike, healthcare workers hope to draw attention to these issues and push for positive change within the industry.