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More Than 30,000 Kaiser Permanente Workers Announce They’ll Strike This Month Over Opposition To A Two-Tier Wage Plan That They Say ‘Would Exacerbate An Existing’ Staffing Crisis

Published Tuesday, November 9, 2021
by Noah Lanard/Mother Jones
More Than 30,000 Kaiser Permanente Workers Announce They’ll Strike This Month Over Opposition To A Two-Tier Wage Plan That They Say ‘Would Exacerbate An Existing’ Staffing Crisis

More than 30,000 Kaiser Permanente Workers plan to Strike next week (on November 15th) if contract negotiations with the health network do not improve.

Workers are fighting a proposal from Kaiser that would cut pay for future hires.

The decision to provide Kaiser with the 10-day notice required by Federal Labor Law is a major escalation in what could soon become one of the largest health care strikes in recent history.

It comes after Kaiser Workers from Unions across the country voted overwhelmingly last month to give Union Leaders the authority to call a Strike.

Roughly 20,000 Workers are already on strike at major companies like Kellogg’s and John Deere as part of what was dubbed Striketober.

The Workers who plan to Strike on November 15th are Members of United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals, the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, and United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7600, which represents Kaiser Workers in California. 

Another 8,000 Kaisers Employees whose Unions have also authorized strikes may put in their 10-day notices in the coming days.

Jodi Barschow, a Kaiser Nurse who serves as the President of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, said in a statement Workers had hoped Kaiser would back down after they authorized strikes and held rallies opposing the health network’s plan.

“Striking is our last resort,” Barschow said, “but it is what we must do so that we can protect our patients, our Workers and our entire Public Health Care System from the disastrous attack Kaiser leadership is staging.”

Kaiser’s initial offer would have cut wages for future hires by between 26% and 39%.

UNAC/UHCP said in a press release the health network reduced that to a 15% cut in an offer made last week.

Kaiser Workers believe the Two-Tier Wage System would deepen an existing staffing crisis at the network’s facilities and put patients at risk by making the non-profit unable to recruit and retain talented Workers.

The Alliance of Healthcare Unions, the coalition of 21 Locals now considering whether to Strike, has been pushing for 4% raises, no Two-Tier Wage System and contract language that ensures safe staffing levels.

Kaiser has made more than $10 billion during the Coronavirus Pandemic, including $3 billion in the second quarter of 2021 - most of which came from investments.

In 2019, outgoing CEO Bernard Tyson’s pay and retirement package came to $35 million.

Kaiser declined to say how much his replacement, Greg Adams, made last year. 

To Read This Labor News Report In Its Entirety, Go To: www.motherjones.com/politics/2021/11/kaiser-permanente-strike-two-tier-striketober/?fbclid=IwAR25ewMmlhVgk1XZFG6pDWjTzEnUk9hdf_tK4cG9q7wQLOaC02POC_8ztbw

 

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