SAN DIEGO — Over 80,000 Kaiser Permanente workers could be walking off the job again next month as contract negotiations continue with the healthcare network.
Leaders with the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions announced on Tuesday that they gave notice to executives of the historic strike’s continuation, which is planned to take place from Nov. 1 to Nov. 8, in the case that a new contract cannot be agreed upon in bargaining sessions this month.
Staffing concerns remain a primary focus of the union. In particular, the Coalition said that placing limitations around subcontracting and outsourcing has become a major sticking point in the negotiations.
Healthcare workers are also seeking pay increases to meet the cost of living in areas where the provider operates, according to the Coalition.
“It’s simple: Kaiser executives need to be investing in healthcare workers right now amidst this short staffing crisis, not discarding them through a variety of expensive outsourcing schemes,” Tamara Chew, a Healthcare Plan Representative, in Roseville, Calif. said in a release. “I can’t understand why anyone in the Kaiser boardroom thinks corporate outsourcing threats are the way to treat a workforce that just a short time ago were being hailed as heroes.”
However, healthcare workers say that they are hopeful that they will not have to strike again, while also taking the legal steps to prepare for the possibility.
Kaiser employees have been bargaining with the provider since April. The last contract the union negotiated with Kaiser was in 2019. The pandemic, union officials say, “worsened working conditions,” contributing to existing staffing issues.
The first strike, which made history as the largest healthcare worker labor demonstration in the U.S., took place for three days earlier this month after Kaiser executives and union negotiators were unable to reach an agreement.
“It took Kaiser a long time to come to the table … they were not willing to compromise … now seeing the impact they are willing to come back to the table,” Marisol Preller, OPEIU LOCAL 30 strike captain and licensed vocational nurse with Kaiser in San Diego, told FOX 5 on Oct. 5, the second day on the picket lines.
Bargaining sessions are set to resume on Oct. 12 and Oct. 13, according to a spokesperson for Kaiser. If healthcare workers strike again, it will begin on Nov. 1 at 6 a.m. local time and continue until Nov. 8 at 6 a.m.
Union officials say the delay between the scheduled sessions and the possible strike is to allow Kaiser executives more time to organize themselves around proposals, as well as allow additional contract workers in Seattle to join strike lines.
According to the Coalition, the contract covering roughly 3,000 workers at Kaiser campuses in Seattle is set to expire on Oct. 31 at midnight.
“Kaiser Permanente remains committed to reaching an agreement that is good for our employees, our members, and our organization, and we will continue to bargain in good faith with the Coalition,” a spokesperson for the healthcare provider said in an emailed statement.
Similar with the first strike, a potential second strike would also involve workers from Kaiser facilities in California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Virginia and Washington, D.C.