Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers announced Thursday that they will take strike authorization votes starting in a couple days.
If the Kaiser Permanente employees vote to strike, it would be the lageste strike of healthcare workers in history.
Driving the news: The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which has around 88,000 members, will vote to authorize a strike starting on Aug. 26 and running through Sep. 13.
- The healthcare workers could head to the picket line as soon as October, when the current contract is set to expire.
- Kaiser Permante’s contract negotiations with the unions are the largest such negotiations going on nationwide right now after Teamsters – comprised of 300,000 people – agreed to a new contract with UPS.
- Kaiser Permanente serves over 12 million people in California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and Washington D.C.
- Kaiser Permanente employees threatening to strike accuse the company of unfair labor practices related to contract bargaining as well as chronic under-staffing.
The other side: Kaiser Permanente pushed back against the call to strike on Thursday, saying that the tactic does not reflect a breakdown in bargaining and does not indicate that a strike is imminent or will happen at all.
- The company urged its employees to reject the call for a strike and to continue to focus on providing care and service to patients.
- Kaiser Permanente also pushed back against the unfair labor practices claim, saying the company is offering above average pay and has offered improvements to the performance sharing bonus plan.
What they’re saying: “Kaiser used to be the industry leader, but they have abdicated that role by failing to work with us to solve the staffing crisis,” said Caroline Lucas, Executive Director of Kaiser Permanente Unions. “And we are all paying for it – the patients, our families and the folks providing the healthcare.”
- Kaiser Permanente said in a statement that it is fully committed to reaching an agreement with the unions.
- “Our priority is to reach an agreement that is mutually beneficial and ensures we can continue to offer our people market-competitive pay and outstanding benefits,” the healthcare provider said. “We are confident that we will reach an agreement that achieves that goal, before the contract expires on Sep. 30. And we are confident that our new agreement will strengthen our position as a best place to work and ensure the high-quality care our members expect from us remains affordable and easy to access.”