Healthcare workers say chronic under-staffing is driving a growing patient care crisis. Sign the petition urging Kaiser to ‘do better!’
The following is from SEIU Healthcare 1199NW:
SEATTLE (Sept. 28, 2023) — Healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente Washington announced they began a strike authorization vote on Wednesday over the corporation’s bad-faith bargaining, unfair labor practices, and refusal to address chronic short-staffing concerns. Approximately 3,000 healthcare workers united in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW across 36 facilities in Washington join Kaiser healthcare workers in California, Oregon, Colorado, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. where a strike notice has already been delivered.
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW represents nurses, medical assistants, technicians, housekeeping staff, physical therapists, social workers, community resource specialists, and other essential members of the care team at Kaiser Permanente worksites throughout Washington — from Marysville to Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Kitsap County, Bellevue, Redmond, and the Spokane region. With their vote, workers would be authorizing the union bargaining team to call for a strike of up to two weeks.
At issue, healthcare workers say, are simmering staff concerns related to unsafe staffing levels that could lead to dangerously long wait times, misdiagnoses, and neglect. After years of the COVID pandemic and chronic understaffing, Kaiser healthcare workers are calling on management to bargain in good faith to reach a contract that will help provide safe staffing levels.
TAKE A STAND — Sign the community petition: “As Kaiser patients and neighbors in the communities Kaiser serves, we are telling Kaiser executives: We are watching, and we expect you to do better.”
“As healthcare workers, we enter this field with a deep commitment to help people, but we are currently experiencing delays in care, reduced access, and declining health outcomes as we push ourselves to the limit, often doing the work of two or even three people,” said Alanna Martin, a social worker at Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center in Seattle and member of the union bargaining team. “We cannot ignore the urgent need to address Kaiser’s staffing crisis, and that is why Kaiser executives must negotiate in good faith and without delay. Our actions speak louder than words, and we’re prepared to make sacrifices, even if it means authorizing a strike, to secure a fair contract. It’s time for Kaiser to respect their workers and prioritize patient care over profits.”
If Kaiser executives don’t take swift action to settle a contract that helps alleviate Kaiser’s chronic short-staffing, workers say they’ll have no choice but to strike. Workers say the company needs to immediately and substantively address the growing care crisis at its hospitals and clinics.
The Kaiser healthcare workers in Washington are members of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which represents more than 85,000 healthcare workers in seven states and the District of Columbia. In April, the Coalition began its national bargaining process. The Coalition and Kaiser Permanente last negotiated a contract in 2019, before healthcare workers found themselves on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic that has worsened working conditions and exacerbated a healthcare staffing crisis.
Even as some frontline healthcare heroes live in their cars and patients wait longer for care, Kaiser released new financials last month indicating they made $3 billion in profit in just the first six months of this year. Despite being a non-profit organization – which means it pays no income taxes on its earnings and extremely limited property taxes – Kaiser has reported more than $24 billion in profit over the last five years. Kaiser’s CEO was compensated more than $16 million in 2021, and forty-nine executives at Kaiser are compensated more than $1 million annually. Kaiser Permanente has investments of $113 billion in the US and abroad, including in fossil fuels, casinos, for-profit prisons, alcohol companies, military weapons and more.
Timeline and key dates
- April 18: National bargaining begins through the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions
- June 20: Local bargaining begins at Kaiser Permanente Washington
- Sept. 22: Latest national coalition bargaining session
- Sept. 25: Latest local bargaining session
- Sept. 27: Local strike votes begin
- Sept. 30: National coalition contract expires
- Oct. 12: Local strike votes conclude
- Late October: If a deal is not reached, Washington workers are prepared to deliver a 10-day notice to strike, pending results of their strike authorization vote
- Oct. 31: Local contract expires
- Early November: Potential strike at 36 Kaiser Permanente Washington facilities
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and healthcare workers with over 31,000 caregivers throughout hospitals, clinics, mental health, skilled home health and hospice programs in Washington state and Montana. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW’s mission is to advocate for quality care and good jobs for all.