Kaiser Permanente Union Workers Authorize Strike

The health care provider’s Southern California regional headquarters is in Pasadena

Published : Tuesday, August 13, 2019 | 4:59 AM

Earlier this year, Kaiser Permanente mental health therapists staged a one-day walkout outside their offices at 3280 E Foothill Blvd, Pasadena on April 25, 2019.

[Updated]   Members of Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) who are employees of Pasadena-based Kaiser Permanente have voted to strike.

According to union spokesman Sean Wherley, over 37,000 California-based workers of the health maintenance organization voted to strike, and 867 not to do so.

Two-thirds of all workers covered by the collective bargaining contract cast votes, “uncommonly high” for a strike authorization, according to Wherely.

A Kaiser Permanente executive said the result of the strike vote reflects “obviously misleading ballot questions” used by the union.

Kaiser Permanente’s bargaining proposal would provide employees with a range of best-in-class working conditions, said Kaiser Permanente’s vice president of communications John Nelson.

The vote was taken between July 29 and Aug. 11. Strike votes from other unions representing Kaiser Permanente workers in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia are ongoing and will run through mid-September.

All told, there are some 80,000 workers involved.

Were negotiations to fail, the strike could begin in early October and run seven days. It would be the largest walkout since the Teamsters Union struck United Parcel Service 22 years ago, according to Wherley.

The union accuses Kaiser Permanente of committing unfair labor practices and not bargaining in good faith. It wants safe staffing, compassionate use of technology, and wages and benefits that can sustain a middle class family.

The current contract will expire Sept. 30, 2019, according to Kaiser Permanente.

Kaiser Permanente’s Nelson said the union’s ballot wording mischaracterized the issues before the workers.

He said that the company’s proposal, “would provide annual pay increases that would keep our employees compensated at higher than market averages and maintain excellent benefits.”

There are, Nelson added, no pay cuts and no changes to the defined pension benefit in Kaiser’s offer.

“SEIU-UHW is more interested in a power play to position themselves vis-a-vis other Kaiser Permanente unions,” said Nelson, “rather than focusing on what is best for their membership.”

Nelson reminded the public that the vote does not automatically mean a strike will take place.

“It is important to understand that a strike vote does not mean that a strike is imminent, although it does place Kaiser Permanente in the position of having to spend millions of dollars preparing for the threat of a strike event. Our first priority is always continuity of care for our patients and members,” he said.

blog comments powered by Disqus