Union coalition at Kaiser Permanente issues second strike warning

A coalition of unions representing over 75,000 Kaiser Permanente employees is threatening to go on strike for the second time in response to ongoing contract negotiations. The previous strike, which took place last week, was deemed the largest strike of healthcare workers in U.S. history. The union coalition has given Kaiser Permanente notice that the follow-up strike will occur from November 1 to November 8 if sufficient progress is not made by the end of October. The key issue that has emerged as a major sticking point is outsourcing.

The coalition has stated that the potential second strike could involve an additional 3,000 healthcare workers, bringing the total number of participants to 78,000. The previous strike impacted several states, including California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. If the second strike occurs, it is expected to be similar in scope, with the exception of Maryland.

The unions are calling for increased staffing levels at Kaiser Permanente hospitals, citing a "short-staffing crisis" that they believe is unsafe and may lead to long wait times, misdiagnoses, and neglect of patients. The unions have also accused the hospital network of unfair labor practices.

In terms of contract demands, the coalition is asking for a 24.5% raise over the course of a four-year contract, protections against subcontracting and outsourcing, the right to form a union at any hospital system acquired by Kaiser, improvements to the workers' performance sharing plan, and increased medical benefits. At the time of the first strike, Kaiser was offering wage increases of 16% and 12.5% over the life of the contract, depending on location.

Kaiser Permanente has acknowledged the shortage of healthcare workers nationwide but stated that it has hired over 50,000 frontline workers in the past two years. The company claims to have reached an agreement in April with the union coalition to hire 10,000 new employees for coalition-represented jobs, a goal it expects to achieve by the end of October.

Both parties are set to resume negotiations on Thursday, and Kaiser has expressed its commitment to reaching an agreement that benefits its employees, members, and organization.


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