Kaiser mental health clinicians to walk off job Dec. 10

Four thousand clinicians at Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente facilities said they plan to strike for five days to protest the quality of mental healthcare.

The strike is scheduled to begin Dec. 10 and will affect more than 100 Kaiser clinics and medical facilities in California, according to the National Union of Healthcare Workers, which represents psychologists, therapists, social workers, addiction medicine specialists and other mental health clinicians.

Union officials accuse Kaiser of failing to live up to its promises to remedy understaffing issues that force patients to wait a month or more for mental health therapy appointments.

"Walking a picket line for five days is a small sacrifice compared to our patients' burden of waiting weeks for care that they paid for, at times desperately need, and have every right to receive," said union president Sal Rosselli.

John Nelson, vice president of communications at Kaiser Permanente, expressed disappointment about the strike plans.

"We are disappointed the leadership of the National Union of Healthcare Workers would ask our highly valued mental health staff to go out on strike, when we've been in active negotiations since the summer, having met in 16 bargaining sessions over five months, and with two more bargaining sessions scheduled for next week," he told Becker's.

"There are no takeaways in our contract proposal," Mr. Nelson said. "We are offering guaranteed wage increases which would keep our expert therapists among the best compensated in their profession and continue to ensure that we attract and retain the most highly skilled professionals."  


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