Kaiser Permanente employees and union leaders circled outside the Kaiser facilities in Stockton on Tuesday, January 31st as part as a one-day strike throughout Northern California, battling over contract negotiations with Kaiser.
“Kaiser is proposing to take away our pension and wanting to drastically reduce our health care benefits,” stated Zili Khon, psychotherapist and member of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).
Gay Westfall, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Kaiser, countered that the union’s allegations that Kaiser is proposing to eliminate retirement benefits are simply untrue.
“Our union is striking for short stuffing, long patient waits; we are speaking on behalf of our patients because we are concerned as clinicians that they are not getting the care they need,” said Khon.
Officials said the walkout had little impact on operations.
A day before the strike, Kaiser sent out mass-emails to their members and patients, alerting them about the strike. “Kaiser Permanente medical centers will remain open during the work stoppage,” read the email.
Westfall explained that Kaiser Permanente has been waiting for more than six months for a proposal from NUHW in response to Kaiser Permanente’s first proposal on wages and benefits.
Although the nurses from the California Nurses Association Union (CNA) have fair contracts, many of them decided to walk off the job and join the picket lines.
This is the second time in four months that CNA is choosing to strike —even though Kaiser and CNA’s union are not in bargaining on a contract, and won’t be for another two years.
The negotiation between Kaiser and the NUHW, which represents mental health and optical workers, began in 2010.
“Kaiser Permanente Northern California has been bargaining in good faith with NUHW for more than a year and we will continue to do so,” said Westfall.