More than 75,000 healthcare workers are set to strike for three days in October over what they say are bad-faith negotiations by Kaiser Permanente executives regarding staffing issues, their unions said Friday.
The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions issued a 10-day unfair-labor-practice strike notice to Kaiser on Friday, the last day of scheduled bargaining talks before a Sept. 30 contract expiration. The strike, which would be the largest healthcare strike in history, is set for Oct. 4 to Oct. 6.
Among the unions’ demands are higher wages, a $25 minimum wage across the board and improved staffing levels.
“Kaiser executives refuse to acknowledge how much patient care has deteriorated or how much the frontline healthcare workforce and patients are suffering because of the Kaiser short-staffing crisis,” Dave Regan, the president of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, said in a statement Friday.
See: Kaiser healthcare workers poised to strike over staff shortages if talks fail: ‘I’ve never seen patient care get to this level’
Henry Perez, a unit assistant in the intensive-care unit at the Kaiser Permanente in Modesto, Calif., told MarketWatch on Friday: “It’s unfortunate it has come to this. Kaiser should be ashamed of themselves for not coming to the bargaining table in good faith.”
Kaiser spokesperson Steve Shivinsky said Friday that “a strike notice does not mean a strike will happen.” “For the last 26 years of our historic labor-management partnership, we have reached agreements with the Coalition every time, with no strikes,” Shivinsky said.
The spokesperson also said that Kaiser has hired 22,000 people so far this year, and that Kaiser’s “philosophy is to provide pay that is up to 10% above market.”
The October strike could be followed by a wider strike in November by all 85,000 Kaiser healthcare workers represented by the coalition if no overall contract is reached, SEIU-UHW spokesperson Renee Saldaña told MarketWatch on Friday. Because of issues with contract timelines, not all workers are scheduled to join the October strike.
The union coalition represents most other Kaiser workers who are not registered nurses or doctors, including surgical technologists, certified nursing assistants, occupational therapists and administrative staff.
The unfair-labor-practice strike will affect hundreds of Kaiser facilities in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
75,000 Kaiser healthcare workers are set to strike in October, accusing management of bad-faith negotiations