More than 4,200 healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego will be joining a nationwide strike beginning Oct. 14, after recently voting to authorize a strike against the healthcare company.
More than 80,000 workers would be affected and picket lines will be set up at Kaiser Permanente hospitals, medical office buildings and other facilities in California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
“We believe the only way to ensure our patients get the best care is to take this step,” said Robert Sparrow, an x-ray technician at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego. “Our goal is to get Kaiser to stop committing unfair labor practices and get back on track as the best place to work and get care. There is no reason for Kaiser to let a strike happen when it has the resources to invest in patients, communities and workers.”
The 4,200 members of OPEIU Local 30 voted between Sept. 16 and Sept. 20 to approve what they believed to be an unfair labor practices strike. Of those members casting ballots, 98 percent voted in support of the action.
Jobs affected by the strike 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 other positions.
The workers’ national contract expired Sept. 30, 2018, and in December 2018 the National Labor Relations Board accused Kaiser Permanente of failing to bargain in good faith.
Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson called the strike announcement “an overt effort to gain leverage in bargaining.”
“Our approach remains the same: we are committed to offering a package that’s aligned with all of our other unions that keeps our employees among the best paid in wages and benefits in the industry. We are committed to our workforce who delivers on our mission every day and to our members’ demand for greater affordability of care and coverage from Kaiser Permanente,” said Tyson.
“I hope we will not have a strike on Oct. 14, and we are preparing to deal with all scenarios to make sure our members are cared for,” he added.
Updated at 8:10 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019
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