Kaiser workers to protest on Labor Day amid potential nationwide strike

Kaiser Permanente workers plan to protest on Labor Day in five cities as a potential nationwide strike looms that would affect more than 80,000 employees at Kaiser facilities, according to the unions that represent them.

The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions said workers are expected to attend events Sept. 2 in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Calif. and Oakland, Calif., where Kaiser is headquartered. Similar protests are planned in Denver and Portland, Ore.

Workers are protesting Kaiser's "unfair labor practices and shift from prioritizing patients and the community to profits and enriching top executives," said the coalition, which comprises unions in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

The protest plans come as workers continue voting on whether to empower their bargaining team to call a nationwide strike that would begin in early October. If a nationwide strike is called, it would be the largest in the U.S. since the Teamsters’ walkout at United Parcel Service in 1997, according to the coalition. The strike would affect 66,000 workers in California as well as workers in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Affected workers would include members of the Service Employees International Union–United Healthcare Workers West across California, who earlier this summer voted to authorize an October strike.  

John Nelson, vice president of Kaiser, has accused SEIU-UHW of using the strike threat as a bargaining tactic, "designed to divide employees and mischaracterize Kaiser Permanente's position, even though most of the [union] contracts don’t expire until October."

Mr. Nelson told Becker's that Kaiser believes the strike authorization vote reflects misleading ballot questions.

 

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