Another strike notice possible at Kaiser, unions say

A strike by Kaiser Permanente workers in multiple states is expected to conclude Oct. 7. However, a new 10-day strike notice is possible after that date, which could lead to further striking after those 10 days, unions said in a news release shared with Becker's.  

More than 75,000 workers began a three-day strike Oct. 4 at Kaiser hospitals and medical office buildings in California, Colorado, Washington and Oregon, and a one-day strike in Virginia and the District of Columbia. The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions has deemed the strike as the largest healthcare worker strike in the U.S.

According to the coalition, additional bargaining sessions were scheduled by the parties Oct. 6 for Oct. 12 and Oct. 13. 

"We look forward to reaching a new agreement that continues to provide our employees with market-leading wages and benefits, and ensures our high-quality care is affordable and available to meet our members' needs," Kaiser said in a statement shared with Becker's

Workers on strike include licensed vocational nurses, emergency department technicians, certified nursing assistants, radiology technicians, ultrasound sonographers, teleservice representatives, respiratory therapists, X-ray technicians, optometrists, dietary services, behavioral health workers, surgical technicians, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, transporters, home health aides, phlebotomists, medical assistants, dental assistants, call center representatives, and housekeepers, among other positions.

"Front-line healthcare workers continue to await meaningful action by Kaiser executives to address our key priorities, including safe staffing, outsourcing protections for incumbent healthcare workers, and fair wages to reduce turnover," Gwendolyn Holloway, a contact lens technician at Kaiser Permanente Vallejo (Calif.) Medical Center, said in a news release.

At the same time, workers don't want patients to resent them due to the strike and its effects, union members and labor experts told The Wall Street Journal. That's why, unlike the more prolonged strikes among auto workers and Hollywood writers, Kaiser union members are returning to work after three days. A spokesperson told the Journal the union hopes the limited strike and other labor action is enough to push negotiations forward. 

"They don't want to leave their patients high and dry," Janice Fine, a Rutgers University labor studies and employment relations professor, said, according to the publication. "They're trying to avoid that."

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