Kaiser pharmacy workers walk off job, cite ‘unfair labor practices’ by hospital

Pharmacy workers at Kaiser Permanente locations in Oregon and SW Washington to strike Sunday, protesting "unfair labor practices" used by the hospital, they say
Published: Sep. 30, 2023 at 5:25 PM PDT|Updated: Sep. 30, 2023 at 10:28 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Pharmacy workers at Kaiser Permanente locations in Oregon and southwest Washington will walk off the job Sunday morning to protest what they say are unfair labor practices used by the hospital since they started bargaining months ago.

The striking workers, who are pharmacy technicians, clerks and warehouse employees, will be picketing every day between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. at the Kaiser Sunnyside and Westside Medical Center campuses as well as two locations in northeast Portland.

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“The unfair labor practices we’re seeing are failing to provide information regarding bargaining grievances, attempting to directly deal with our members and attempting to dictate to the union who may serve as its representative,” said Miles Eshaia, a spokesperson for UFCW Local 555.

Eshaia said these unfair labor practices are getting in the way of their bargaining.

“Kaiser Permanente needs to deal with unfair labor practices so that we can come, eventually, come to a fair agreement,” he said.

The strike is set to last until October 21, during which, Eshaia encourages patients to continue going to Kaiser for their prescription needs.

“We want people to go to Kaiser, that’s important. You should go to the doctor, you should go get your medications,” he said. “Just know our members won’t be a part of the process.”

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FOX 12 reached out to Kaiser Permanente about the strike, which sent this statement:

“UFCW Local 555 represents about 380 of Kaiser Permanente’s pharmacy technicians, pharmacy clerks, and pharmacy warehouse employees in Oregon and southwest Washington.

“Until recently, UFCW Local 555 was part of the national Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which has been bargaining at the national level since April. A few weeks ago, UFCW decided to split from the Coalition. They have been unwilling to bargain with us since their decision to leave the Coalition and leave national bargaining. We have urged them to return to the bargaining table and are hoping they will agree to schedule a bargaining session.

“Given that UFCW 555 has been unwilling to bargain with us for weeks, we feel strongly that their call for a strike is premature and unwarranted.

“Our goal remains to reach an agreement with UFCW 555 that strengthens our position as a best place to work and ensures the high-quality care our members expect from us remains affordable and easy to access. We’ve got a solid offer on the table that addresses their economic and staffing concerns.

“Our top priority is caring for our members and patients. We have contingency plans in place to ensure they have access to pharmacy services during the strike.

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“We’re keeping our members up to date on any changes to our pharmacy operations and schedules, and we have expanded Kaiser Permanente’s network of pharmacy locations to include community pharmacies for the duration of the strike. As always, the most convenient way for our members to fill their prescriptions is to use our mail order delivery service on kp.org/pharmacy or on the Kaiser Permanente app; they’ll receive their medications in about 3-5 days at no extra cost.

“Kaiser Permanente is proud to be the largest union-represented health care employer in the U.S. — with nearly 75% of our employees represented by unions. We have a long and successful history of working with labor unions, and our Labor Management Partnership is the largest and longest running such partnership in the United States.”

They also had this to say about UFCW’s staffing concerns:

Despite the acute shortage of health care workers, we have been able to hire more than 50,000 frontline employees nationwide in just the last two years. We hired 29,000 people in 2022, and another 22,000 so far this year. Included in this year’s new hires are more than 9,800 people hired into jobs represented by the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions.”