[July 22, 2019] OAKLAND, Calif. – Leading Democratic presidential candidates are lining up behind 85,000 employees at Kaiser Permanente who are preparing to launch the country’s largest strike in more than two decades.
U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke recently tweeted support for Kaiser workers, who will begin voting in late July to authorize an unfair labor practice strike beginning in October 2019. It would be the nation’s largest walkout since UPS workers went on strike in 1997.
“It sends a strong message when the top presidential candidates weigh the issues and come down on the side of workers and quality healthcare,” said Eric Jines, a Radiologic Technologist at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles. “These candidates recognize that Kaiser’s behavior is an example of how corporate greed undercuts working people and entire communities.”
Kaiser workers say the “non-profit” corporation has strayed far from its mission of serving communities and helping patients and caregivers “thrive.” Kaiser reported $9 billion in profits since January 2017, sits on $31.5 billion in reserves, and paid 36 of its executives more than $1 million in 2017, including the CEO, who is paid at least $16 million a year.
If it were eligible, Kaiser would rank 34th on the Fortune 500 list of largest revenue-producing corporations, ahead of IBM, Dell, HP, Freddie Mac, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, American Express, Aetna, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Disney, Lockheed Martin and Nike.
The workers are from multiple unions in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii and the District of Columbia, and will call the unfair labor practice strike unless Kaiser begins to bargain in good faith. The workers are fighting to:
- Restore a true worker-management partnership;
- Ensure safe staffing and compassionate use of technology;
- Build the workforce of the future to deal with major projected shortages of licensed and accredited staff in the coming years; and
- Protect middle-class jobs with wages and benefits that can support families.