[March 2, 2016] DANA POINT, Calif. – More than 100 hospital workers protested this week outside a luxury hotel where Kaiser Permanente’s board members voted to approve five-figure bonuses for dozens of Kaiser executives who already receive more than $1 million each in salary. The Kaiser frontline caregivers protested what they say is a misuse of the company’s resources and an abuse of the public’s trust.
“Kaiser executives have their priorities upside down,” said Verna Hampton, a cashier at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles. “Instead of holding the line on costs for patients, they pile up multi-billion dollar profits. Instead of recognizing that taxpayers subsidize their operations, they pay themselves millions and then vote themselves five-figure bonuses that should be used to treat patients. It’s time that the public learns what’s happening behind the corporate doors at Kaiser.”
As a non-profit charity, the company pays no corporate income or real estate taxes, and receives big taxpayer subsidies through Medicare and Medi-Cal payments. Yet dozens of Kaiser’s executives received more than $1 million each in compensation in 2013, and nearly 100 more executives will receive bonuses this year worth tens of thousands of dollars each.
Last month, however, the company announced it would not issue small performance-based bonuses to its frontline nurses, lab-techs, EVS workers and other caregivers in Southern California, despite record profits and surpassing patient recruitment goals for the region. According to Kaiser, it had national profits of $1.9 billion in 2015 and $3.1 billion in 2014.
In addition to the protest, hospital workers are collecting signatures for an initiative on the November 2016 statewide ballot in California that will limit the compensation of hospital executives to the salary and expenses of the President of the United States, or $450,000 a year.
While voting for the big bonuses, the Kaiser executives and board members were pampered in style for three days at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. According to the hotel’s website, it is “perched atop a seaside bluff, surrounded by panoramic views of the Pacific and the sandy shores of Salt Creek Beach below.” It is “a coastal haven of new experiences. The resort awakens the senses with its vibrant beachfront locale and celebrated Five Diamond service. Sprawling shoreline vistas create awe-inspiring memories from the moment of arrival. Dine on Southern California coastal cuisine, explore your surfside surroundings on an eco-adventure, or soothe with a spa escape.”
The hotel features three restaurants, including a steakhouse, enoSTEAK, where the price of a meal easily surpasses $100 a person, and often as much as $200.