Thousands of Kaiser Permanente workers, including in Oregon and SW Washington, will strike on Nov. 15
OAKLAND, Calif. (Nov. 5, 2021) — The management of Kaiser Permanente should be ashamed.
The company has offered the Alliance of Health Care Unions, a coalition of 21 union locals up and down the West Coast, just 1 percent annual raises, as well as a two-tier wage structure. In Kaiser’s proposal, new hires at almost every job classification beginning in January 2023 would receive wages between 26 percent and 39 percent lower than existing wages. Meanwhile, the company has $44.5 billion in reserves, and continues to be profitable: In 2020, it made more than $2 billion in operating profits. The company even returned $500 million in CARES Act funds it received during the pandemic.
Kaiser Permanente employees continue to work on the front lines of the pandemic. They have risked their lives to care for their patients. Now, they’re going to strike for a fair contract with higher wages and safer working conditions.
Tens of thousands of members of the Alliance for Health Care Unions — including nearly 3,400 members of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP), AFT Local 5017 in Oregon and Southwest Washington — have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against Kaiser Permanente. (Workers at Kaiser Permanente Washington, formerly Group Health, elsewhere in the state work under different contracts.) And on Thursday, they gave Kaiser management a 10-day notice of their intent to strike beginning Monday, Nov. 15.
TAKE A STAND — The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO urges all union members and community supporters to please sign this petition in support of the healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente.
Even during a pandemic when other health care systems struggled to make ends meet, Kaiser Permanente was able to turn down COVID-19 relief money because it was so financially strong. But instead of using its tremendous resources to address chronic staffing shortages and invest in its workers, Kaiser Permanente is demanding rollbacks at the bargaining table.
Workers are asking for a 4 percent wage increase and adequate staffing. Instead, management is proposing a 1% increase and a two-tier system that would pay new staff lower wages. And they rejected all worker proposals to recruit and retain permanent full-time employees.
This is unacceptable. If Kaiser Permanente thinks its employees are heroes, the least it can do is agree to a fair contract.