The three-day walkout would affect facilities in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Virginia and Washington D.C.
The next round of labor unrest comes on Oct. 4, when 75,000 Kaiser Permanente employees may walk off the job to protest what they call the Oakland-based healthcare provider’s bad faith bargaining.
On Friday, Sept. 22, the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which represents at least a dozen unions at Kaiser facilities in seven states, issued a 10-day strike notice. California coalition members voted Thursday, Sept. 14, to authorize the walkout.
Also see: Kaiser strike looms: California’s labor summer is far from over
If no agreement is reached with the healthcare provider, the strike will begin on Wednesday, October 4, and end on Friday, October 6, at facilities in California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The majority of union members, approximately 60,000, live in California. Kaiser has 23 Southern California facilities and 5.2 million members in Southern California and Hawaii.
According to the coalition, Kaiser facilities are understaffed, causing an unfair burden on healthcare workers and long wait times for patients. It also claims that wages have not kept pace with rising living costs.
More on Kaiser: Health-care workers demand increased staffing and pay.
“Kaiser executives refuse to acknowledge how much patient care has deteriorated or how much the frontline healthcare workforce and patients are suffering because of the Kaiser short-staffing crisis,” said Dave Regan, president of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, in a statement.
The company stated on Friday that it would continue to bargain in good faith. Kaiser previously stated that it would propose universal pay increases, including a minimum starting wage of $21 per hour.
“Our philosophy is to provide pay that is up to 10% above market,” Kaiser explained on Friday. “We also work hard to keep healthcare affordable for our patients, members, and customers.” Wages and benefits account for roughly half of the cost of health care in America, so we must all work together to achieve this critical goal.
See also: Nurses to hold’solidarity march’ in support of striking writers and actors
In the event of a strike, Kaiser stressed that its facilities would remain operational.
“… for the last 26 years of our historic labor-management partnership, we have always reached agreements with the Coalition, with no strikes,” the company says in a statement. “A strike notice does not imply that a strike will take place.” Our top priority is to care for our members and patients, and we have plans in place to ensure that we can continue to provide high-quality care even if there is a strike.”
See also: Kaiser to pay $49 million for dumping syringes and bodily fluids into regular dumpsters.
Healthcare workers want Kaiser to increase staffing levels and raise the systemwide minimum wage floor to $25 per hour from $17.
The coalition claims that Kaiser has reduced performance bonuses, increased subcontracting and outsourcing, and lagged in workforce training and hiring.
The coalition’s claims are refuted by Kaiser, which says it is committed to hiring and training. The company stated that a goal set with the coalition to add 10,000 union jobs this year has nearly been met, with 9,700 positions filled.
“We are aggressively recruiting to fill more,” said the company.
Kaiser’s labor contracts expire on September 30.
Also read: UAW workers at an Ontario parts distribution center are preparing to strike.
A strike by Kaiser’s unions would add to Southern California’s labor unrest, as Hollywood unions continue to fight for job protection and higher wages. The dockworker, hospitality, and fast-food industries have all long complained about low wages and inadequate workplace safety.
After three days of talks and five months of work stoppage, Hollywood executives were back at the negotiating table with the Writers Guild of America on Friday, hoping to find common ground. The New York Times reported that discussions on Thursday stalled on several key issues.
Also read: Hollywood strikers’ survival strategy has evolved into side hustles.
The guild has been on strike for 143 days, with members fighting for better pay and working conditions as the streaming era increases demand for a steady stream of entertainment. Studios have stated that they are offering the highest wage increases in more than 30 years to writers.
Labor unrest is also spreading across the country, with autoworkers on Friday expanding their strike to 38 facilities in 20 states.
According to the Cornell-ILR Labor Action Tracker, there were 205,000 workers on strike in July, compared to only 8,000 in the same month in 2022.