Kaiser Employees Are Prepared to Strike

Kaiser Employees Are Prepared to Strike

Riverside

Service Employees International Union–United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) members and employees of Kaiser Permanente recently voted to strike for higher wages, adequate staffing and a more compassionate use of technology.  If the strike comes to fruition in early October as planned it will be the nation’s largest labor event in more than twenty years.  SEIU-UHW is a coalition of nonprofit and labor organizations with about 80,000 health professional members located in California. SEIU-UHW is affiliated with the national organization of SEIU, or the Service Employees International Union.  More than 37,000 cast ballots in support of a strike (98 percent) while only 867 voted to oppose (2 percent). The turnout was uncommonly high for a strike vote in any industry, with two-thirds of workers casting ballots. “Kaiser workers all over California are putting a stake in the ground that it’s time for this corporation to get back on track and live up to its mission to help patients, workers and communities thrive,” said Heather Wright, a women’s health clerk at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Clara.  “This strike vote is about stopping Kaiser’s unfair labor practices. This company should be all about providing the best possible patient care, but unfortunately its focus in recent years has been on making billions of dollars in profits and millions of dollars for Kaiser executives.” Workers say they want Kaiser to bargain in good faith and stop committing unfair labor practices, this is one of the reasons their negotiations include an effort to restore a true worker-management partnership. In response to the strike vote Kaiser claimed, “SEIU-UHW leadership has decided to use the threat of a strike as a bargaining tactic, designed to divide employees and mischaracterize Kaiser Permanente’s position, even though most of the contracts don’t expire until October.” Kaiser further claimed SEIU-UHW used what they claimed were, “obviously misleading ballot questions,” to secure membership approval of the strike vote.

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