Negotiations between Kaiser Permanente and the union representing its mental health care workers collapsed Wednesday night, one month into a strike that still has no end in sight.
The National Union of Healthcare Workers, which represents some 2,000 Kaiser psychologists, therapists, social workers and chemical dependency counselors in Northern California, said in a statement that Kaiser refused to consider proposals to increase staffing and provide therapists with additional time to complete crucial administrative work. The union has also demanded the company cap caseloads if therapists are unable to see patients as quickly as state law requires.
Kaiser declined to schedule future bargaining sessions, leaving workers and their many thousands of patients in an ongoing state of limbo, union officials said.
“It’s so frustrating to be on the front lines of a mental health crisis only to have your employer be in complete denial about it,” Matt Hannon, a Kaiser psychologist in South San Francisco, and a member of the union’s bargaining committee, said in a statement. “Kaiser officials showed once again that they have no interest in providing timely mental health care that complies with state law or meets the needs of patients.”
Kaiser said in a statement that it has already made extensive compromises, including concessions on pay, and that the union is essentially pushing for its workers to spend less time with patients in need.