On Thursday, United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP) members delivered a 10-day notice of a strike against Kaiser Permanente, covering 21,000 registered nurses, pharmacists, midwives, physical and occupational therapists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and others throughout Southern California.
The 7,400 members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7600 in Southern California and 3,400 members of Oregon Federation of Nurses and Healthcare Professionals (OFNHP) will also strike against Kaiser Permanente beginning the same day.
The strike would affect 366 facilities, including hospitals and medical centers as well as hundreds of clinics in Anaheim, Baldwin Park, Downey, Los Angeles, Ontario-Vineyard, Riverside, San Diego, West Los Angeles, Woodland Hills and other regions.
The USW and Kaiser management, along with 20 other local unions who belong to the Alliance of Health Care Unions (AHCU), have been negotiating since this past spring over a labor agreement that will cover roughly 50,000 health care workers in nearly every geographic area where Kaiser Permanente has a presence.
Registered nurses and health care professionals are striking over what they say is Kaiser Permanente’s proposals to depress wages for current employees and slash wages for incoming workers during a national health care staffing crisis.
“The lives of our patients and the health of our communities are dependent on the outcome of these negotiations,” said UNAC/UHCP President Denise Duncan. “For weeks, we’ve been beating back a two-tier wage package which would impact our ability to hire, recruit and retain during a severe shortage of nurses, health care workers and professionals—wage proposals that resemble those of a slash-and-burn corporation, not the leading health care provider that our members helped build.”
Kaiser Permanente’s most recent proposal, delivered in bargaining on Tuesday, raised their 1% wage proposal for current employees to 2%, according to the unions. In the first two years, an additional 2% lump sum would temporarily pad workers’ take-home pay. In year three of a four-year contract, UNAC/UHCP says workers would be asked to take another lump sum payment in exchange for a 15% slash to the wages and benefits of future members.
“Workers already gave so much of themselves, even prior to the pandemic, and Kaiser has yet to offer a proposal that reflects their hard work and sacrifice,” said Local 7600 President Michael Barnett. “We plan to stand in solidarity as a union until we make that happen.”
UNAC/UHCP and the Oregon Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals joined the USW in filing their 10-day notices today, bringing the number of Kaiser Permanente workers signaling their intent to strike to more than 30,000.