Kaiser Permanente's mental health workers to strike: 6 things to know

Psychologists, therapists and social workers affiliated with Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente, will strike next week throughout Northern California to protest what they consider insufficient staffing, according to a Contra Costa Times report.

Here are six things to know about the planned strike.

1. The 1,400 Northern California mental health workers set to participate in the strike are members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

2. The workers are striking over what they consider insufficient staffing, which results in patients having long waits for appointments. The workers also claim Kaiser is retaliating against clinicians for advocating for patients, according to the report.

3. The union will have more than 40 rolling picket lines at 24 Kaiser facilities during the first week of the open-ended strike, according to the Contra Costa Times. San Jose (Calif.) Medical Center and San Francisco Medical Center will be targeted Monday. On Tuesday, pickets will continue in the following California cities: Walnut Creek, Oakland, Santa Clara and San Francisco.

4. The strike will be the second this year for Kaiser's mental health clinicians, who have been without a contract for more than four years. The first strike was in January.

5. Kaiser officials said wages and accountability expectations are the major remaining contentious issues.

"The union has asked for a 19 percent increase over a three-year period in addition to more than $15,000 in bonuses. We believe this is excessive," Gay Westfall, Kaiser Permanente senior vice president for human resources, said in a statement, according to the report.

6. Kaiser plans to keep facilities open during the strike and offer mental health services during the strike, using physicians, managers and contracted providers, according to the Contra Costa Times.


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