Q&A: Going on Strike At Kaiser

Kaiser Permanente executives continue to propose major cuts to our jobs, wage rates, and benefits in National Bargaining for our next contract. It is becoming increasingly clear that going on strike may be the only way to address Kaiser’s unfair labor practices and win a strong contract that protects our families and our patients. Be sure you’re ready for this possibility by understanding the facts — and our rights — when it comes to going on strike.

What is a strike?
A strike is when workers unite together and withhold their labor to protest against unfair treatment by their employer. By taking collective action workers can push for fair treatment. A strike is usually a last resort after an employer has refused efforts to resolve the issues.

Why are we striking?
We are striking to protest Kaiser’s unfair labor practices and to protect our patients from under-staffing and impersonal automated care. We are striking for an investment in the healthcare workers of the future. We are striking for our families’ standard of living and our retirement security.

When would our strike be?
We cannot go on strike until after our SEIU-UHW Local Agreement expires on September 30, 2019. Our plan is to start our strike in early October.

How long would our strike be?
Our plan is for a one-week or five-day strike.

What am I expected to do during a strike?
Show up to the picket line every day. Bring your family and make sure everyone participates in all strike actions. Winning this fight demands the full participation of all of us.

Will I get paid if I go on strike?
No. Everyone should be saving for a strike. SEIU-UHW has a strike fund that will be used to feed picketers and run the activities required to make the strike successful. A panel of Kaiser members appointed by the President will accept requests for extreme hardship payments and evaluate if they meet a very high bar for hardship.

Can I use vacation or sick days for the strike?
No. Sick days and vacation days cannot be used during a strike.

Can I strike if I am on probation or on call?
Yes. Probationary and on-call employees have the same right as everyone else to strike.

Will I lose my health benefits?
No. A one-week strike will not free Kaiser of its responsibility to pay our healthcare premiums.

Can Kaiser legally fire or discipline me for going on strike?
No. An unfair labor practices strike is a protected concerted union activity and it is illegal for an employer to even threaten an employee with discipline. Please report any abuse by management immediately to a bargaining team member or SEIU-UHW organizer.

Do I need to tell my supervisor I will not be reporting to work on the strike day?
No. Our union will give that notification ten days in advance. Your supervisor may ask you if you are going on strike. Your bargaining team recommends that you answer “YES.”

What will happen to our patients during a strike?
We are required to give a 10-day notice before our strike. It is then Kaiser’s responsibility to reschedule procedures, hire temporary replacements, and make a plan to provide care.

Can non-union members or members of other unions join our strike line?
Yes. Other hospital workers can lend support (including RNs and doctors), and make an individual decision not to cross the picket line. Kaiser cannot fire employees who are unwilling to cross a picket line. Employees who are non-union or members of other unions should notify their supervisors that they do not want to cross a picket line. A strike is a protected concerted activity and it is illegal for an employer to even threaten an employee with discipline.

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