Kaiser workers plan protest over job outsourcing

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Workers from Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente will protest July 20 at Kaiser Woodland Hills (Calif.) Medical Center against the outsourcing of call center jobs to other states, according to the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West.

The union of more than 100,000 healthcare workers, patients and healthcare activists in California cited workers' concerns about outsourcing and potential effects on patient care.

"We see all these jobs going to companies outside of California and of course we worry about the impact on our livelihoods and our patients," Kaiser employee Judith Vasquez-Roberson said in a news release. "Kaiser is trying to get more with less. The move to outsource these good jobs based in Southern California to companies out-of-state is bad for patients and is devastating for workers and our community."

The union said workers also are concerned about patients experiencing long wait times and delays in obtaining care.

In response to the union's protest plans, Kaiser issued a prepared statement expressing gratitude for the commitment and dedication of all employees throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

The healthcare giant said it respects workers' rights to lawfully gather and voice their concerns "but strongly disagree[s] with SEIU-UHW's false claims about Kaiser Permanente’s actions. The union is creating a false narrative and stirring unwarranted concern."

Kaiser secured a vendor to temporarily supplement staffing resulting from the effects of the pandemic, spokesperson Elizabeth Schainbaum said. However, Kaiser said it plans to discontinue this vendor's services by the end of September, and, in general, "outsourcing is not a focus of our overall efficiency efforts at Kaiser Permanente."

"Whenever business conditions require us to make changes to staffing, we communicate transparently, thoughtfully and well in advance with union leadership," Kaiser said.

The health system does not expect interruption or loss of services to members and patients during the protest.

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