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75,000 union health care workers at Kaiser Permanente set to strike Wednesday

More than 75,000 Kaiser Permanente employees could walk off the job Wednesday. trade union representatives This would be the largest health worker strike in U.S. history.

A federation of unions representing workers notified the company last month that it planned to go on a three-day strike starting Wednesday at 6 a.m. Pacific Time if a new contract was not signed in time. The previous contract expired on Saturday.

If an attack is launched, it may have an impact hundreds of hospitals Picket lines span multiple states, including California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

Healthcare workers participate in a rally at Kaiser Permanente’s main medical facility in Los Angeles on September 4, 2023. (Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Health care workers unions are calling for increased staffing at Kaiser Permanente hospitals, saying the facilities are unsafe and facing a “staffing crisis” where patients could face dangerously long wait times, misdiagnoses and neglect. It claims to be in the middle of “. . The union has also accused the hospital conglomerate of unfair labor practices.

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Jessica Cruz, a certified vocational nurse at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, said, “Kaiser executives refuse to listen to us and provide solutions needed to end Kaiser’s shortage crisis.” are negotiating in bad faith over this matter,” he said in a prepared statement. .

“When I rush a patient and have to rush to the next patient, I see the patient getting frustrated. That’s not the care I want to provide,” Cruz continued. “We are exhausted doing the work of two or three people, and patients are suffering because Kaiser is understaffed and they are not getting the care they need.”

SEIU United Healthcare Workers West, one of the unions, demonstrated at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in early September to protest working conditions at the hospital. The event reportedly attracted thousands of people, with some demonstrators forming a human chain.

The coalition said it would include a 24.5% pay increase for union members over the four-year term of the contract, protections against subcontracting and outsourcing, the right to unionize at hospital systems that Kaiser may get, stronger performance-sharing plans for workers, and increased medical benefits.

Mr. Kaiser’s latest proposal, submitted over the weekend, proposed pay increases of 16% and 12.5% ​​for Allied employees over the life of the contract, depending on location.

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The employer also offered to redesign the performance sharing plan with a minimum payment opportunity and a maximum payment potential of $3,750. It updated its outsourcing proposal in a way it said addressed many of the coalition’s concerns. It also includes additional workforce development funding and improved retiree health benefits.

In response to claims of staffing shortages, Kaiser said there is a severe shortage of health care workers nationwide, but despite the challenges, the company has hired more than 50,000 front-line workers in the past two years. He said he was able to do so. The company announced in April that it achieved a goal with the union coalition to hire 10,000 new people in union-represented positions and expects to reach that goal by the end of this month.

Kaiser Permanente emergency room exterior

More than 75,000 union employees at Kaiser Permanente hospitals across the country plan to go on strike Wednesday. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/Getty Images)

The company said on Tuesday that progress had been made in negotiations and that “a strike is not inevitable and in no way justified.”

“We must continue to work together to get through this situation,” Kaiser said in a statement. “Because the reality is that this country is still in a health care crisis. Access to health care is limited, and it will take time for us as an industry to recover and stabilize the U.S. health care system. Management and workers work together to stand up for each other, our patients, and our communities. ”

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Kaiser said that even in the event of a strike, hospitals and emergency rooms would remain open and facilities would be staffed with doctors, trained and experienced administrators and staff. The healthcare giant also plans to bring in more temporary workers during the strike, depending on the cause.

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