NEWS: Healthcare Workers at Kaiser Walk Over 5 Million Steps to Launch Bargaining

Workers Challenge Kaiser to Walk Its “Thrive” Talk

Press Release for: Thursday, March 1, 2012
Contact: Elizabeth Brennan, (213) 999-2164

OAKLAND, Calif. – Healthcare workers in Los Angeles, Roseville, Santa Clara and dozens of other facilities throughout California are kicking off contract negotiations with a unique twist by walking 5 million steps together on their lunch breaks.

Thousands of Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers stepped together in a show of unity and strength to challenge the healthcare giant to step up for good healthcare jobs and a healthier California. Workers head into contract talks next week.

“We’re 90,000 Kaiser workers across the country, and this year we‘re going to do contract negotiations a little differently,” said Angela Young, a Unit Assistant at Kaiser in Roseville. “Today, we’re showing how a little walking can go a long way towards better health, but we also want to highlight the critical role that healthcare workers play in keeping Kaiser members healthy.”

Workers kept track of their steps on customized purple pedometers and shared the results in real time through Facebook, Twitter and other online platforms.

The 45,000 SEIU-UHW members who work at Kaiser are lab technicians, surgery assistants, nurses, cleaning staff, and call center operators. The workers are part of the 90,000-member Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which will begin contract bargaining with Kaiser Permanente March 6.

“We are the frontline workers who make Kaiser’s ‘Thrive’ mission a success,” said Les Harris, a physical therapist  at the healthcare company’s Los Angeles Medical Center complex. Harris joined hundreds of his co-workers in purple shirts and wearing purple pedometers while walking a course along Sunset Blvd. in front of the Kaiser complex. “Today, we are challenging them to walk their talk and support good healthcare jobs.”

California’s healthcare system is facing a growing crisis. Californians are less healthy than ever before and healthcare costs are skyrocketing. Many employers across the state are facing increased costs in providing healthcare benefits for workers. The Kaiser workers say that they have a plan that addresses these challenges.

“We are using contract negotiations as a means to improve the health of our membership and all Californians, as well as maintaining the wages and benefits that have allowed Kaiser workers to excel and provide the highest quality of care in the country,” said Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW.

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SEIU—United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is the largest hospital and healthcare union in the western United States with more than 150,000 members. We unite every type of healthcare worker with a mission to achieve high-quality healthcare for all. SEIU-UHW is part of the 2.2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation’s fastest-growing union. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.

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