Employees at Kaiser Permanente could begin striking as soon as this Wednesday after the labor contract for 75,000 unionized health care workers with the company expired, potentially triggering the largest strike of health care workers in United States history.
“Our patients are not safe and getting the care that they deserve while we’re in the staffing crisis,” Datosha Williams, a member of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, told KTLA. “Us going on strike is us standing up to Kaiser executives to have them fix and address the staffing crisis.”
A spokesperson for Kaiser, however, said that progress has been made at the bargaining table and urged workers to reject all calls for a strike.
SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West announced on Sept. 14 that 98% of its members voted to approve the Oct. 4-6 strike in protest of “unfair labor practices” if an agreement was not reached before the contract expired, City News Service reported.
“There have been good discussions with Kaiser on a number of issues, and while there is no concrete agreement, we can see a path to resolution on raising shift differentials, a fair remote work agreement, and investments in training for both current employees to promote to harder to fill jobs and community members to become the healthcare workforce needed for the future,” a statement from the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions said.
The coalition added that the two sides are still not close to an agreement on other issues, including raises, protections against outsourcing and subcontracting, an amount for performance-sharing bonuses, a medical plan for retirees and support and recognition of the union.