Thousands of SoCal pharmacy workers set strike date against Kaiser Permanente

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A Kaiser Permanente hospital is seen in this undated photo. ( Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times)

A Kaiser Permanente hospital is seen in this undated photo. ( Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times)

Thousands of Kaiser Permanente pharmacy workers from San Diego to Kern counties have set a strike date to walk off the job at more than 100 Southern California locations.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union issued the 10-day strike notice Monday amid what they described as stalled negotiations and low-ball contract offers.

“For almost two years, we’ve been highly exposed to COVID-19 while we care for our patients,” said Tracy Cason, a pharmacy employee at Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Hills. ”We are ready to strike. Whatever it takes to win, we will do it for Kaiser to hear our voices.”

The UFCW represents about 2,500 pharmacy employees, including pharmacy techs, pharmacy assistants and pharmacy interns at 150 Kaiser Permanente locations, a news release stated.

Beginning Nov. 18, the employees plan to picket outside the health provider’s Southern California locations.

“This is an opportunity for Kaiser to step up for health care workers by offering adequate wages and addressing our safety, staffing concerns,” said Lucy Alcantar, a Lead Pharmacy Technician in Downey.

The United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals issued a 10-day strike notice to Kaiser Permanente last week, saying they will go on strike beginning Nov. 15.

The 10-day notices are required by California law in order to allow health facilities to prepare.

In a statement, Arlene Peasnall, senior vice president of human resources at Kaiser Permanente, asserted that the company is “indisputably one of the most labor-friendly organizations in the United States.”

“Our history and our future are deeply connected to organized labor. Labor unions have always played an important role in our efforts to provide more people with access to high-quality care and to make care more affordable,” Peasnall said.

She added that Kaiser Permanente believes “we can reach an agreement” to avoid an “unnecessary and harmful strike,” but indicated that the organization will be ready if employees move forward with a strike.

“If a strike actually occurs, our facilities will be staffed by our trained and experienced managers and the contingency staff we are bringing in as needed, and our physicians will continue to be available to care for patients,” Peasnall added.

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