Kaiser workers warn of 2nd strike: 6 things to know

A labor coalition of 11 unions, which staged a strike earlier this month involving tens of thousands of workers in multiple states, is giving Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente a few more weeks to reach a new labor contract before facing another strike in November.

Kaiser and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions have been negotiating a new labor deal since April. Here are six things to know about where things stand:

1. 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 deemed the strike as the largest healthcare worker strike in the U.S.

2. After the strike, employees remain concerned about alleged unsafe staffing levels, alleged labor law violations by Kaiser, securing adequate wages to recruit and retain workers, and Kaiser's alleged refusal to agree to certain limitations on subcontracting and outsourcing, according to a coalition news release shared with Becker's.

3. "It's simple: Kaiser executives need to be investing in healthcare workers right now amidst this short staffing crisis, not discarding them through a variety of expensive outsourcing schemes," Tamara Chew, a healthcare plan representative at Kaiser in Roseville, Calif., said in the coalition release. "I can't understand why anyone in the Kaiser boardroom thinks corporate outsourcing threats are the way to treat a workforce that just a short time ago were being hailed as heroes."

4. Additional bargaining sessions were scheduled for Oct. 12 and Oct. 13. However, the coalition warns of another significant work action from Nov. 1 to Nov. 8 if a new labor deal is not reached in the next few weeks.

5. The coalition said an additional contract covering Kaiser workers in Seattle expires Oct. 31, and waiting until Nov. 1 would enable another 3,000 healthcare workers to join strike lines in another major West Coast metropolitan area. 

6. Kaiser shared the following statement with Becker's: "We have received notice from the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions for a potential second strike beginning Nov. 1 to Nov. 8. We are scheduled to return to the bargaining table on Oct. 12 and Kaiser Permanente remains committed to reaching an agreement that is good for our employees, our members, and our organization, and we will continue to bargain in good faith with the coalition." 

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