More than 75,000 healthcare workers at private healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente plan to strike this week for three days if union demands are not met.
“It just seems like there is no concern for short-staffing and patient care. It’s mind-blowing to see Kaiser Permanente, which was once an industry leader that liked to call themselves the gold standard of care, be so out of touch with employees with their patients, and their more focused on putting profits over patient care,” said Henry Perez, an intensive care unit secretary at Kaiser Permanente in Modesto, California.
The workers’ union contract expired recently, and Kaiser staff have been asking for improvements to staffing and wage increases in light of rising inflation costs.
The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions said the strike will affect California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. facilities. The union warned that if negotiations do not start, the union could call for a longer strike.
More than 75,000 healthcare workers could go on strike — impacting Kaiser Permanente facilities in five states and Washington D.C. — if negotiators fail to reach an agreement on a contract that expires Saturday at midnight. https://t.co/0igAmaK9rc pic.twitter.com/L2hbRwIBFd
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) October 1, 2023
“They always praised us as healthcare heroes during the pandemic, and now they’re treating us like zeros by not bargaining in good faith,” said Perez.
Kaiser officials told CBS News that leaders were meeting with unions and “making progress.”
“A strike is not inevitable, and it is certainly not justified. Our goal is to reach a fair and equitable agreement that strengthens Kaiser Permanente as the best place to work and ensures that the high-quality care our members expect from us remains affordable and easy to access,” a statement from Kaiser said.
Perez says staff are facing burnout as they carry the load of what should be work for two or more people.
“It causes stress. I see my nurses I support, and we’re constantly running on fumes because of staffing,” he added.
Keven Dardon, a patient access representative at Kaiser Permanente’s Sunnyside Medical Center in Clackamas, Oregon, said his department previously had some 60 employees and now operates with less than 40 because of cuts to the department.
“It’s really taken a toll in the hospital setting and in the medical offices that we have here,” said Dardon. “That’s what we’re fighting for. Our frontline employees are demanding Kaiser Permanente executives come to the table. We’ve proposed the things that would fix the staffing issue, and we’ve made tons of proposals, but because our executives just aren’t listening to us, they are just not coming to the table to even entertain those proposals.
Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Justin Sullivan / Staff
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.
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