2,000 Kaiser Workers Strike

2,000 employees at Kaiser Permanente walked off Wednesday in a 1 day strike because of  nurse-to- patient ratios and health care benefits.  The strike was organized by the National Union of Health care Workers and centered around Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center plus Kaiser’s South Bay Medical Center.

There was a rescheduling of some appointments  but Kaiser had sufficient employees to handle day appointments and emergencies.

Kaiser is negotiating with three bargaining units of the union that represents registered nurses, social workers, psychologists, speech pathologists, audiologists, health educators and dieticians throughout Southern California.

One of the issues workers are asking for solutions to is that patients must wait five to six weeks for a mental health appointment, and are limited to 30 minutes.  Mental health specialists want patients to get more counseling.  Patients should not have to wait 4-6 weeks for an appointment.


Pharmacists Could Strike At Kaiser Permanente

Southern California Kaiser Permanente pharmacists, represented by the Guild For Professional Pharmacists, have notified Kaiser Permanente of the Guild’s intention to strike, following a breakdown in contract negotiations.

The strike would affect over 100 pharmacies across southern California including several in the Coachella Valley. The strike would stop work on Thurday and Friday April 21st and 22nd.

One of the goals of the strike is to prove how important pharmacists are to the hospital. “Oh, very, very important,” said Kaiser member James Petersen. “In this environment here where we have a lot of seniors, everybody needs their pharmacy and it’s going to be a real inconvenience if there’s a prolonged strike.”

Although negotiations are still ongoing, some patients are already dealing with inconveniences. “They told me that I could pick up my prescription on Thursday, and they called me this morning and told me that it wouldn’t be ready until Monday,” said David Schmoll. “That’s not acceptable, this isn’t right.”

One of the major points of contention in the negotiations has to do with a cutting of benefits for pharmacists. “Basically cut in half, actually to a third of what they have now,” said Guild for Professional Pharamcists’ representative Cheryl Asperger. “And, they would be working alongside the other people in the Pharmacy and the hospital who actually have much better benefits and they want us to do this, for the next couple of years. We believe it’s extremely unfair.”

Kaiser Permanente Director of Media Relations Jim Anderson responded with this written statement:

“These pharmacists are valued members of our team. We will welcome them back to the job when their strike is concluded, will continue to reach a fair and equitable contract with them…While our outpatient pharmacies will be closed during this 48-hour work stoppage, we have contracted with Walgreens pharmacies, so that members who need a new or refilled prescription during the strike will be able to have their prescriptions filled.”

Kaiser nurses give Kaiser Permanente a new deadline: April 19th.

1,000 nurses at Kaiser Permanente’s premier Southern California hospital have likewise stepped into the breach to stave off attacks on themselves and their patients. Kaiser, the nation’s biggest HMO, is known nationally as one of the most labor-friendly employers in existence. Recently, however, like the auto manufacturers of three decades ago, Kaiser has changed its attitude toward its unionized workforce, pushing its workers to pay more for their health benefits, chiseling away at their retirement benefits, and withholding scheduled raises and benefits from workers to retaliate against their union activity.

If the nurses at Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center had reverted to form for today’s labor movement, they would have negotiated away the worst of the cutbacks, and swallowed the rest of it like a bitter pill. But two weeks ago, these workers stepped up and did what unions do less and less of these days: They went on strike. RNs in Los Angeles walked the picket line demanding safe staffing ratios at the same time that workers in Madison, Wisconsin were refusing to vacate the Capitol building. Nurses waved picket signs expressing solidarity with their counterparts in Wisconsin, forming a united front separated by a mere 2,000 miles. Last week, these nurses gave their employer a new deadline of April 19th. If they’re not on their way to a contract settlement by that date, the nurses on the union’s bargaining committee will recommend to their co-workers that they go on strike again.