Southland Kaiser Permanente employees joined in with thousands of labor union workers to strike for higher pay and more staff on Wednesday morning.
According to Michael Downer, communications lead for Kaiser Permanente, the Santa Clarita Kaiser Permanente locations’ strike activity has been minor and, as of the time of this publication, has stopped.
The strike is scheduled to last until Saturday.
Terry Kanakri, senior media relations specialist for Kaiser Permanente, assured that all Kaiser Permanente facilities would remain open and operational during the strike. Contingency plans are set in place to minimize the impact on staff and patients, according to Kanakri.
A statement from Kaiser Permanente said that patients with non-urgent appointments and procedures may be contacted to reschedule their appointments. Some COVID-19 and other vaccine appointments may also be rescheduled.
Nurses, doctors, optometrists, pharmacists and receptionists are standing beside the union coalition in the demands for higher pay, a solution for staff shortages, protections against outsourcing and earlier notice in the case of remote workers being called to work in person.
This comes after the workers’ union contracts expired on Saturday.
Kaiser Permanente management and coalition union representatives have reached agreements on several specific proposals as of Tuesday, but negotiations are still in the works.
Kaiser Permanente has released the following statement in response:
“We remain committed to reaching a new agreement that continues to provide our employees with market-leading wages, excellent benefits, generous retirement income plans and valuable professional development opportunities.
“It’s our responsibility to continue to balance taking care of our employees and being more affordable to our patients, members and communities. Wages and benefits make up about half the cost of health care in America, so we all need to work together on that critical goal.
“As noted in a recent report from the American Hospital Association, rising inflation has led to health care experiencing a ‘massive surge’ in expenses driven by drugs and supplies, equipment shortages, staffing costs and supply chain disruptions. At the same time, in the wake of the pandemic, demand for care has increased dramatically, as people come in for care that has been delayed. Kaiser Permanente is not immune to these inflationary pressures.”
Caroline Lucas, executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, released the following statement on Tuesday:
“Given the urgency of Kaiser’s staffing crisis, frontline health care workers are ready to sit down with Kaiser executives whenever they’re ready to bargain in good faith — including up until the scheduled strike start time. However, no agreement can be made until Kaiser executives stop bargaining in bad faith and committing unfair labor practices.
“Tens of thousands of frontline Kaiser health care workers across the country are ready for an unfair labor practice strike at 6 a.m. today. Patients and workers need dramatic action now to solve the Kaiser short-staffing crisis and to ensure our patients’ safety.”