More than 80,000 Kaiser workers may strike beginning Oct. 14

More than 80,000 Kaiser Permanente workers nationwide will strike for seven days beginning Oct. 14 unless they reach a contract agreement with the Oakland, Calif.-based healthcare giant, according to the unions that represent them.

The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions — which comprises labor unions in seven states and the District of Columbia — said in a news release that strikes are planned at Kaiser Permanente hospitals, medical office buildings and other facilities in California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Among the jobs affected by the picket lines are optometrists, clinical laboratory scientists, licensed vocational nurses, certified nursing assistants, technicians, phlebotomists, medical assistants and housekeepers.

The strike plans come as Kaiser and union leaders have been negotiating a new labor deal. 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.   

"We believe the only way to ensure our patients get the best care is to take this step," Eric Jines, a radiologic technologist at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles, said in a news release. "Our goal is to get Kaiser to stop committing unfair labor practices and get back on track as the best place to work and get care. There is no reason for Kaiser to let a strike happen when it has the resources to invest in patients, communities and workers."

Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson issued a statement claiming that the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, one of the unions representing Kaiser employees, used the strike announcement as "an overt effort to gain leverage in bargaining" and to "get a better offer than what our other unions have received."

"We are in this situation because of the aggressive approach of SEIU-UHW leadership, but our approach remains the same: We are committed to offering a package that’s aligned with all of our other unions that keeps our employees among the best paid in wages and benefits in the industry. We are committed to our workforce who delivers on our mission every day and to our members' demand for greater affordability of care and coverage from Kaiser Permanente," said Mr. Tyson.

"I hope we will not have a strike on Oct. 14, and we are preparing to deal with all scenarios to make sure our members are cared for," he added.

If the strike occurs, it will be the largest walkout in the U.S. since the Teamsters strike against United Parcel Service in 1997, according to the coalition.

 

More articles on human capital and risk:

California nurses to strike Sept. 20
Colorado Kaiser workers authorize nationwide strike affecting more than 80,000 employees
Nurses plan strikes at Tenet hospitals in 3 states

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