21,000 Kaiser nurses to strike

More than 21,000 nurses across 21 Kaiser Permanente facilities in Northern California plan to strike Nov. 21 and Nov. 22 in what National Nurses United is calling one of the largest private-sector nurses strikes in U.S. history. 

Members of the California Nurses Association union are striking to protest the Oakland, Calif.-based system's "refusal to address their ongoing concerns about workplace health and safety and chronic short staffing," according to a Nov. 10 news release. The union — which represents about 21,000 nurses in Northern California and 1,200 nurses at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center — said the health system was given 10 days' notice of the strike plans. Nurses at the Los Angeles hospital also plan to hold the two-day strike. 

Nurses have been negotiating for a new contract since June "with little to no movement on key issues," the union said. Specifically, nurses are urging Kaiser to agree to a contract that provides minimum staffing guidelines, increased hiring and training to end chronic short staffing, and job protections against subcontracting and outsourcing. 

"We have been bargaining with the California Nurses Association for months, and have been making steady progress toward these goals, including in a session [Nov. 10]. We have already reached important agreements on safety, diversity and other important matters," a Kaiser spokesperson said in a Nov. 11 statement to Becker's

In the Nov. 10 contract bargaining session, Kaiser said it offered 21.25 percent wage increases over four years to Northern California nurses, which it described as "higher annual raises for our nurses than we have been able to offer for decades." 

"We are committed to reaching an agreement, and do not believe there is any reason for a strike, given the many agreements we have already reached in bargaining, and the generous economic proposal we are putting on the table," the statement said. 

Contingency plans are in place "to ensure patients receive the care they need in the event CNA carries out a strike," Kaiser said. 

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