Kaiser Permanente union workers poised to strike after contract expires

A sign is posted on the exterior of the Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center on September 08, 2023 in Vallejo, California.

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More than 75,000 workers at the largest nonprofit private health-care provider in the United States are poised to strike Wednesday after negotiations failed to reach an agreement over the weekend.

The workers’ contract with Kaiser Permanente expired Saturday with disagreements still simmering over staffing levels, which unions have made a focus of their demands, along with better pay and benefits.

The Coalition of Kaiser Unions on Monday accused Kaiser of negotiating in bad faith and committing unfair labor practices.

Workers will strike Wednesday morning if Kaiser executives do not take “dramatic action now to solve the Kaiser short staffing crisis by investing in its workforce,” the coalition said in a statement to CNBC.

The strike will target hundreds of Kaiser facilities across California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Virginia, and Washington D.C., according to the coalition.

Kaiser Permanente serves nearly 13 million patients. The nonprofit operates 39 hospitals and more than 600 medical offices across eight states and D.C.

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The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions’ membership includes medical assistants, surgical and lab technicians, pharmacists and administrative staff among other health-care workers.

A Kaiser spokesperson on Monday said that negotiations are ongoing, and previously said it remains optimistic an agreement will be reached and that a strike will be averted.

Kaiser also has said it has contingency plans to ensure patients continue to receive care during a strike.

Short staffing, a long-standing problem in the health-care sector, has led to unsafe wait times for patients and deteriorating care at Kaiser facilities, the union says.

“Kaiser executives refuse to acknowledge how much patient care has deteriorated or how much the frontline healthcare workforce and patients are suffering because of the Kaiser short-staffing crisis,” Dave Regan, president of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, said late last month

Kaiser reported a profit of $2 billion in the second quarter this year, compared to a loss of $1.2 billion in the same period in 2022.

The nonprofit generated $25 billion in revenue in the second quarter of this year.

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