In protest over pay and staffing shortages, 75,000 healthcare employees began picketing at Kaiser Permanente facilities on Wednesday morning.
This is the latest significant labor unrest to occur in the United States. With 39 facilities around the nation, Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest insurers and administrators of the healthcare system in the nation.
Nearly 13 million people in California are covered by the non-profit organization, which sends patients to clinics and hospitals it either owns or collaborates with to provide care.
Approximately 85,000 of the health system’s employees nationwide are represented by the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which supported a strike for three days in California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, as well as one day in Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Licensed vocational nurses, home health aides, ultrasound sonographers, and technicians from the radiology, X-ray, surgical, pharmacy, and emergency departments are among the striking
Doctors choose not to take part, and Kaiser claims that all of its hospitals, including the emergency rooms, will be open throughout the protest. The business announced that it would hire hundreds of temporary workers to cover any gaps caused by the walkout.
However, the strike can cause rescheduled non-urgent treatments and delays in receiving appointments. This year has seen tremendous worker mobilization across many sectors, including transportation, entertainment, and hospitality, leading to authorizations for strikes and work stoppages.
The health care sector has had numerous strikes this year as a result of burnout brought on by excessive workloads, a condition that the pandemic significantly exacerbated.
The most recent one was on Wednesday. In August, the unions that represent Kaiser employees demanded a minimum salary of $25 per hour, as well as 7% annual raises in the first two years and 6.25% annual raises in the following two.
They assert that administrators have engaged in dishonest bargaining during discussions and that understaffing is increasing the hospital system’s earnings at the expense of patients.
In a Kaiser medical office in Camarillo, California, licensed vocational nurse Mikki Fletchall remarked, “They’re not listening to the frontline health care workers.” “Our patients are the reason we’re on strike. We don’t want to do it, but we shall nonetheless.
The hospital system has hired 51,000 staff since 2022, and by the end of the month, it hopes to have added 10,000 more. With more than $25 billion in operating revenue, Kaiser Permanente recorded a second-quarter net income of $2.1 billion.
The business, however, claimed that it was still facing difficulties with inflation, labor shortages, and cost pressures. Even though the entire industry is facing the same difficulties, Kaiser executive Michelle Gaskill-Hames defended the business and claimed that its procedures, pay, and retention are superior to those of its rivals.