Kaiser Permanente Workers to Vote on Strike Authorization

Kaiser Permanente mental health workers carry signs as they march in front of Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center on December 10, 2018 in San Francisco, California. Nearly 4,000 Kaiser Permanente mental health workers with the National Union of Healthcare Workers union kicked off a five-day strike at Kaiser facilities throughout California. The union says that they are protesting the lack of staffing that forces many patients to wait for a month or more for appointments. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Kaiser Permanente workers will begin voting Monday on whether to authorize a massive strike that would affect Kaiser facilities nationwide, according to the Service Employees International Union, one of the unions representing Kaiser workers.

Workers at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland will vote on Monday. Voting will go on for more than a month as Kaiser workers in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Virginia and Washington, D.C. cast ballots.

If authorized, the strike will begin in early October. If approved, the union said it would be the biggest strike in 20 years. According to the union, Kaiser workers have been without a contract since Sept. 30 and talks stalled on July 12.

The union is accusing Kaiser of unfair labor practices, saying that the healthcare company is paying its executives exorbitant salaries while not providing adequate resources to workers and patients.

A spokesperson for Kaiser did not immediately return a request for comment.

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Many Kaiser workers have been outspoken about their issues with the company in recent months. Earlier this month, Kaiser mental health care workers in San Francisco staged a one-day strike, saying that staffing reductions have led to severe cutbacks and long delays in service for serious mental health conditions.

At a recent Oakland City Council meeting, many Kaiser workers spoke in opposition to the council selling a city-owned parcel to a developer for a massive project on Telegraph Avenue that would eventually serve as Kaiser's new headquarters.

While councilmembers encouraged Kaiser to reach a resolution with its workers, the council approved the land sale.

Sonia Allen Smith, a radiology technologist at Kaiser's Oakland medical center, said in a statement that Kaiser "has abandoned its mission to serve communities in favor of earning massive profits and enriching top executives."

Kaiser's executives "are thriving as Kaiser raises prices for patients, undermines quality healthcare, refuses to bargain in good faith and attacks the frontline healthcare workers who have made it successful," Smith said.

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