By Sheri Williams
SEIU-UHW members across the state began a series of pickets in May to fight for a fair contract, better patient-staff ratios and ending the outsourcing of their jobs.
“Kaiser has lost its way,” the union said on its website. “Instead of working in partnership with us to protect quality patient care and good jobs, Kaiser is outsourcing and automating our jobs all over state, attacking our wages and benefits, understaffing facilities, and raising patient premiums. These attacks are happening even though Kaiser has $31.5 billion in reserves and made record profits of $6.4 billion in 2017-2018 and $3.2 billion in just the first three months of 2019.”
Hundreds of Sacramento union members and their supporters joined the effort with a one-day picket in at Kaiser in South Sacramento. Actions also took place at the Roseville Medical Center and at Kaiser’s Morse Road facility.
More than 55,000 union-represented health care workers at Kaiser Permanente are holding rallies around the state through mid-June as their labor contract nears its Sept. 30 expiration date, according to the union.
Rallies and actions will continue across the state until June 12, in an effort to encourage the health care conglomerate to “get back on track” by providing affordable health care for all, along with excellent patient care and strong jobs.
“Although Kaiser Permanente is a ‘non-profit’ hospital system, too often it acts like a ‘for-profit’ corporation that leaves behind the values, community relationships and connection to patients and healthcare workers that made it a success,” Verna Hampton, a Kaiser employee on the picket line, told media. “We are determined to get Kaiser back on track as the provider that communities enthusiastically call their own, patients believe offers the best care, and employees are proud to work for.”
Also earlier this month, 4,000 mental health clinicians authorized the union to hold an open-ended strike as early as June if the employer continues to refuse a fair contract.
“An open-ended strike is really the last thing we want to do,” Kenneth Rogers, a Kaiser psychologist and NUHW member, told The Sacramento Bee. “We want to bargain effectively with this employer. We want this thing to come to a conclusion. They don’t need to propose to us everything we want. They just need to propose something serious and … engage in a process that will be handled seriously, that will come to a quick resolution.”