40,000 Kaiser Workers Planning Sympathy Strike in Northern California

Healthcare Workers Preparing One-Day Sympathy Strike in Support of Local 39 Engineers on November 18th

40,000 Kaiser Workers Planning Sympathy Strike in Northern California

Healthcare Workers Preparing One-Day Sympathy Strike in Support of Local 39 Engineers on November 18th

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
November 5, 2021  

OAKLAND, Calif. –  Healthcare workers from SEIU-UHW, OPEIU Local 29, and IFPTE Local 20, representing 40,000 Kaiser Permanente employees in Northern California, will begin voting to authorize a one-day sympathy strike in solidarity with Kaiser engineers from Local 39 who have been on strike for more than two months.

“We are voting to support the sympathy strike with the engineers of Local 39 to help them achieve a fair contract, because we understand how disrespected they feel by Kaiser’s unfair labor practices,” said Georgette Bradford, an ultrasound technologist at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Sacramento. “We see it every day when there’s not enough staff in our units to care for patients safely, when we’re mandated to work overtime and denied time off even though we’ve put in extra hours during the pandemic, or when we see our work outsourced.”

SEIU-UHW, OPEIU Local 29, IFPTE Local 20, and other unions are demanding that Kaiser stop its anti-union tactics and agree to a fair contract with Local 39. All three unions have picketed alongside the striking engineers of Local 39 in recent weeks.

“We’re embarrassed that Kaiser has dragged the engineers strike on for 8 weeks,” said Kundra Vaughn, pharmacy technician and OPEIU Local 29 member at Kaiser Oakland Medical Center. “Kaiser is supposed to be the labor-friendly health plan. They have lost their way.”

“It’s time for all Kaiser workers to come together and say ‘enough is enough,’” said Shae Schopp, supervisor clinical lab scientist and member of IFPTE Local 20.

Despite being a non-profit organization – which means it pays no income taxes on its earnings and extremely limited property taxes – Kaiser Permanente reported a net income of $6.4 billion in 2020.

“After raking in billions of dollars in profits during the pandemic, Kaiser continues to pay dozens of executives million-dollar salaries but wants to cut frontline healthcare workers’ pay rates and reduce their benefits,” said Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW. “Kaiser’s position is not only demeaning to workers but is also absolutely dangerous and destructive for patients. It’s well recognized that there is a growing healthcare worker shortage that is getting worse by the day. Slashing pay rates and benefits to pad profits and boost executive salaries will exacerbate the shortage and hurt patient care.”

Jobs affected by the strike vote include optometrists, clinical laboratory scientists, respiratory and x-ray technicians, licensed vocational nurses, certified nursing assistants, surgical technicians, pharmacy technicians, phlebotomists, medical assistants, and housekeepers, among hundreds of other positions.

More than 58,000 Kaiser Permanente employees are members of SEIU-UHW. OPEIU Local 29 represents approximately 2500 office, technical and professional employees at Kaiser. IFPTE Local 20 represents 1800 clinical lab scientists, home health therapists, optometrists, genetic counselors, and other technical and professional employees at Kaiser. Local 39 represents approximately 700 engineers across Kaiser. They join tens of thousands of Kaiser workers across the West Coast who are expressing their discontent with the healthcare giant through pickets, strikes, and other actions in California and Oregon.

MEDIA CONTACT: Renée Saldaña, mediarelations@seiu-uhw.org

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SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is a healthcare justice union of more than 100,000 healthcare workers, patients, and healthcare activists united to ensure affordable, accessible, high-quality care for all Californians, provided by valued and respected healthcare workers. 

Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 29 is a dynamic, respected labor organization, dedicated to improving the working conditions of office, technical, professional, and health care employees.

The Engineers and Scientists of California Local 20, IFPTE AFL-CIO & CLC is a dynamic, democratic, and activist union that represents more than 8,000 licensed engineers, scientists, licensed healthcare professionals, and attorneys.