More than 1,500 pharmacists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists from California to Hawaii—represented by The United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP) in negotiations for their first union contracts with Kaiser Permanente—will cast strike authorization votes October 24-28. The results will be announced on October 29, according to a press release.
On October 11, in ongoing negotiations for an existing national contract, more than 20,000 UNAC/UHCP members in southern California Kaiser Permanente locations headed toward a strike against the healthcare giant in an overwhelming authorization vote.
UNAC/UHCP members across Kaiser Permanente are standing up against proposals that they allege depress wages for current workers and they need due to staffing shortages they say threaten patient care for the long term.
This latest strike vote would affect Kaiser hospitals and medical centers from Fresno to Sacramento in California and on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the big island in Hawaii.
In northern California, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists face workload demands that leave patients—trying to recover from long COVID and other conditions—waiting too long for rehabilitative care.
Hawaii pharmacists and therapists have been in protracted talks, working against employer proposals seemingly designed to thwart the newly organized units. New units are also worried about the employer’s resistance to solving long-term issues of staffing and quality.
A strike would not immediately occur when the voting concludes on October 28. The strike authorization gives the bargaining teams the option of calling a strike when they choose, and for a duration to be determined. Labor laws require unions in the health care industry to submit a 10-day notice to the employer before going out on strike.
In recent years, working in partnership with front-line unions, Kaiser Permanente has set standards nationally for healthcare quality and for wages and benefits in the industry. Kaiser Permanente’s health care system, which boasts 12 million health plan members, has turned a $2.7 billion profit during the pandemic, maintained a $44.5 billion reserve, and continued to gain subscribers.