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96% Of 18,209 Participating Union-Represented Members Who Work At Kaiser Permanente’s Southern California Hospitals & Clinics Vote To Authorize Strike

Published Wednesday, October 13, 2021
by The AV Times
96% Of 18,209 Participating Union-Represented Members Who Work At Kaiser Permanente’s Southern California Hospitals & Clinics Vote To Authorize Strike

(SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA) - Unions representing thousands of Kaiser Permanente Health Care Workers in Southern California say their Members have voted to authorize a Strike, which Union Officials say would likely “cripple” the Health Care Giant’s operations.

The United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP) said 96% of 18,209 participating Members working at Kaiser Permanente’s Southern California hospitals and clinics voted this month in favor of authorizing the Strike, if necessary.

Members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7600, which also includes Kaiser Permanente Employees in Southern California, have also voted to support granting the Unions authority to call a Strike. 

As required by law, Kaiser must be given 10 days’ notice before work stoppages can begin, which UNAC/UHCP said in a statement would be the largest Strike in the country so far this year.

The two Unions say they represent a combined 31,000 Kaiser Workers in a wide range of job classes - from Registered Nurses (RNs), Physical Therapists and Pharmacists to Licensed Vocational Nurses, Appointment Clerks, Housekeeping Attendants, Medical Assistants, Customer Service Representatives, Pharmacy Assistants, Phlebotomists, Pharmacy Technicians, Membership Service Representatives, Dietary Aides and more. 

The Unions, which are seeking 4% wage increases each year through 2023, say Kaiser wants to cut wages for Health Care Workers amid major staffing shortages and cost-of-living increases.

“We’re concerned about the future of nursing and how we recruit and retain Nurses and other Health Care Workers who will serve our communities for years to come,” UNAC/UHCP President Denise Duncan said. “We can no longer sit back and watch the employer continue to dismantle the progress we made in quality patient care and health plan membership growth.”

In a statement, Arlene Peasnall, senior vice president of human resources at Kaiser Permanente, said Kaiser is continuing to work with the union’s umbrella organization, the Alliance of Health Care Unions, on reaching an agreement.

Kaiser and the Alliance of Health Care Unions have been in negotiations since April.

“Health Care Workers are facing record levels of burnout after twenty months of the COVID Pandemic,” USW Local 7600 President Michael Barnett said. 

“We urge Kaiser Permanente management to come to the table and bargain a fair contract that addresses chronic understaffing and safety issues rather than forcing Workers into a Labor Dispute by insisting on dangerous cost- cutting measures,” Barnett said.

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