80,000 Kaiser Workers Begin Voting to Authorize Strike

[July 29, 2019] OAKLAND, Calif. – More than 80,000 Kaiser Permanente workers began voting July 29 to authorize a nationwide unfair labor practices strike.

Preparations for the strike, which would be the largest since the Teamsters strike at United Parcel Service in 1997, began after contract talks stalled July 12. In December 2018, the National Labor Relations Board charged Kaiser Permanente with failing to bargain in good faith. Since then, Kaiser has continued to bargain in bad faith and commit additional unfair labor practices.

Voting to approve the unfair labor practices strike will take place at Kaiser Permanente facilities across California and continue into early September at facilities in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. The strike would start in early October.

“While we’re working for a healthy America, Kaiser Permanente – a non-profit – has abandoned its mission to serve communities in favor of earning massive profits and enriching top executives,” said Sonia Allen Smith, a Radiologic Technologist at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland. “It’s those executives and the corporation’s bank account that are thriving as Kaiser raises prices for patients, undermines quality healthcare, refuses to bargain in good faith, and attacks the frontline healthcare workers who have made it successful.”

The previous contract expired Sept. 30, 2018. Workers are fighting to:

  1. Restore a true worker-management partnership, and have Kaiser bargain in good faith;
  2. Ensure safe staffing and compassionate use of technology;
  3. Build the workforce of the future to deal with major projected shortages of licensed and accredited staff in the coming years; and
  4. Protect middle-class jobs with wages and benefits that can support families.

As a non-profit, Kaiser is supposed to directly serve the public interest in exchange for billions in tax breaks. But in recent years, Kaiser has departed from its mission by squeezing out billion-dollar profits, providing excessive compensation to executives – such as $16 million to its CEO –  failing to serve its share of low-income patients and attacking Kaiser workers.

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