75,000 Kaiser Permanente workers will begin striking Wednesday
PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – Kaiser Permanente workers across the country are preparing to walk off the job Wednesday in what could be the largest healthcare workers strike in U.S. history.
This will impact thousands of frontline workers at local facilities in addition to the hundreds of local pharmacy technicians who have already taken to the picket lines.
“I’ve clocked in and out for 25 years,” Juanita Kamhoot, a Certified Nursing Assistant 2 said.
Kamhoot has worked at Kaiser Permanente in Clackamas for more than two decades. She calls the current level of short staffing a “crisis.”
“Tomorrow, we will strike, not just for the members, but especially for our patients, who deserve the best care,” Kamhoot said.
About 4,000 frontline healthcare workers in the region including nursing assistants like Kamhoot plan to walk off the job starting Wednesday morning as part of a nationwide strike at Kaiser Permanente over what they call unfair labor practices -- if an agreement isn’t reached before 6 a.m.
A spokesperson for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 49 said they represent certified nursing assistants and others across the more than 60 Kaiser facilities in the area.
“We’ve been in bargaining with Kaiser since April,” Alan Dubinsky, Communications Director for SEIU LOCAL 49, said. “Speaking personally, I’ve had care delayed, you know due to staffing issues.”
Separately, about 400 local pharmacy technicians and other workers at Kaiser Permanente are already on a 21-day strike that began Sunday.
The Kaiser pharmacy employees are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555. Both unions said these two strikes point to a larger issue.
“People are Kaiser are overworked and understaffed,” Miles Eshaia, Communications Coordinator for UFCW Local 555, said.
Kaiser Permanente sent a statement saying in part, “We understand and share the frustration, the burnout, and the exhaustion. We will absolutely do the right thing for our employees, to support them, reward them and be there for them. We also have a responsibility to make sure our high-quality care is affordable and available to meet our members’ needs.”
If the thousands do go on strike Wednesday morning, it’s planned to be a 3-day strike.
Kaiser said they will remain open in the area during the strike, and will notify patients impacted by changes in service.
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