The contracts of 75,000 workers are about to end.Largest medical strike in U.S. history could be next

Mike Blake/Reuters

On September 19, 2023, registered nurses from Kaiser Permanente San Diego conduct a one-day informational picket in the early morning hours outside one of the company’s three medical centers in San Diego, California, USA.


Labor contracts for thousands of unionized health care workers across five states and Washington, D.C., expire Saturday at 11:59 p.m. PT, potentially sparking the largest health care strike in U.S. history. There is sex.

More than 75,000 health care workers at hundreds of Kaiser Permanente facilities plan to strike from Oct. 4 to Oct. 7 if a collective bargaining agreement is not reached.

Hospital executives, doctors and registered nurses are not participating in the work stoppage, but experts say patients at Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit health care providers, are likely to feel the effects of the strike. The family says.

The striking workers across California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Virginia and Washington, D.C., are part of a coalition of eight unions. They work in a wide range of medical support positions, including nursing assistants, X-ray technicians, pharmacists, and optometrists. Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare (SEIU-UHW) spokeswoman Renee Saldana said the coalition represents about 40% of all Kaiser Permanente staff. SEIU-UHW is the largest union in the federation.

In a statement to CNN on Thursday, Kaiser Permanente spokeswoman Hilary Costa said progress had been made in negotiations and urged workers to reject calls to strike.

“The threat of a strike is unfortunate, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a strike will happen,” Costa said. “We take seriously any threat that disrupts the care of our members, and we have plans in place to ensure we can continue to provide high-quality care should a strike actually occur next week.”

The short-term strike will not affect Kaiser Permanente’s bottom line. Unlike the traditional fee-for-service health care system in the United States, Kaiser Her Permanente patients pay a fee for medical services. Kaiser Permanente has 12.7 million members and operates 39 hospitals and 622 clinics, according to its website.

SEIU-UHW says if no resolution is reached after a possible strike in October, the coalition will call for a “longer and stronger” strike in November, when another contract for some union workers in Washington state expires. He said he was ready to begin and may add additional strikes. Workers lined up on the picket line.

The coalition calls for across-the-board price increases to address the rising cost of living, job protections for outsourced and subcontracted workers, updated retiree health benefits for employees, and Kaiser’s policy to address the “crisis” of staffing shortages. I’m looking for a permanent plan. According to the SEIU-UHW website, employees feel overworked.

“Workers are really under pressure right now,” Saldana said. “They went through the worst global health crisis in a generation, and then they come out and worry about paying rent, worry about losing their home, worry about living in their car. .”

The latest information from the coalition shows that the two sides remain far apart. The coalition is calling for a flat 6.5% increase in the first two years of the labor contract and a 5.75% increase in the second two years. According to the SEIU-UHW website, Kaiser Permanente offered raises of up to 4% for the first two years of the contract and up to 3% for the following two years.

Betsy Tuchel, president of the Kaiser Permanente union, told CNN that contract negotiations with Kaiser Permanente management will continue ahead of Saturday’s 11:59 p.m. deadline.

“There will be no agreement unless Kaiser executives stop negotiating in bad faith with front-line health care workers for the solutions needed to end Kaiser’s shortage crisis,” Tuchel said. .

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