Standing in solidarity: 1,700 California Kaiser workers to join strike

Kaiser Permanente optometrists, laboratory scientists, geneticists and home health therapists in Northern California have voted to authorize a "sympathy strike" to support more than 80,000 other Kaiser workers nationwide who are planning to walk off the job beginning Oct. 14, according to unions that represent Kaiser workers.

The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions — which comprises labor unions in seven states and the District of Columbia — said in a news release 1,700 members of IFPTE Local 20 voted between Sept. 3 and Sept. 16 to approve the sympathy strike. The sympathy strike will take place to support picketing at Kaiser Permanente hospitals, medical office buildings and other facilities in California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.   

"We strongly voted in support of a sympathy strike because of Kaiser's unfair labor practices," Joan Mah, OD, an optometrist at Kaiser Permanente in San Rafael, Calif., said in a news release. "If Kaiser can just get away with unlawful activity unchecked, when will it stop?" 

The strike plans come as Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser and unions in the coalition, including Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, have been in a labor dispute. Employees held Labor Day protests and have threated a nationwide strike. The coalition alleges Kaiser has continued to use unfair labor practices and strayed from its community-oriented mission.    

John Nelson, vice president of communications at Kaiser Permanente, issued a statement emphasizing the healthcare giant's commitment to reaching fair and equitable labor contracts in terms of pay and benefits.

"We are committed to our workforce, which delivers on our mission every day, and to our members' demand for greater affordability of care and coverage from Kaiser Permanente," he said.

Mr. Nelson also expressed disappointment about IFPTE leadership's approach involving threats of a walkout and said Kaiser will continue to engage with the coalition, which includes IFPTE, in negotiations.

"We hope we will not have a strike on October 14," he added. "However, know that we are also preparing to deal with all scenarios to make sure our members and patients continue to receive the service and the care they deserve."


More articles on human capital and risk:

U of Chicago moves patients, closes units in preparation for nursing strike
St. Luke's nurses set to strike Oct. 3
Nurses plan strikes at Tenet hospitals in 3 states

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