Kaiser Permanente mental health workers end 5-day strike

Kaiser Permanente's striking mental health clinicians ended picketing on Dec. 14, according to the National Union of Healthcare Workers that represents them.

Over five days, thousands of psychologists, therapists, social workers and other caregivers have protested at Kaiser Permanente clinics and medical facilities across California to call attention to what they say is understaffing that leads to long wait times for therapy appointments.

"Our strike has sent a clear message to Kaiser that we will sacrifice for our patients and stand together to make sure they get the care they need when they need it," Brittany Rushin, a marriage and family therapist, said in a news release. "Hearing from patients this week talk about their struggles to access mental healthcare has strengthened our resolve to make Kaiser finally fix this problem."

John Nelson, vice president of communications at Kaiser Permanente, called the strike "unnecessary and poorly timed, coming during the holiday season when many of our patients with mental health needs were seeking care."

"It needlessly put our patients in the middle of the union's contract demands, which is especially disheartening because the union’s principal demands at the bargaining table have not been about improving care and access," he told Becker's. "Rather, the union leadership is seeking even higher wages and benefits and demanding operational changes that would reduce the availability of mental healthcare for our patients."

Both sides are scheduled to return to the bargaining table next week.


More articles on human capital and risk:

Pennsylvania hospital nurse strike looms
4,000 Kaiser mental health clinic workers launch 5-day strike in California
Massachusetts hospital alleges voter fraud in November union vote

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