(FixThisNation.com) – Over 75,000 medical staff, including nurses, ER technicians, and pharmacists, began a significant strike on Wednesday at several Kaiser Permanente medical centers across the U.S.
This massive labor protest covers states such as California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Virginia, and also Washington, D.C., resulting from an intensifying staffing shortage following the pandemic. Sources indicate that, based on union statements, this is the largest healthcare labor demonstration in U.S. history.
Headquartered in Oakland, California, Kaiser Permanente is a leading nonprofit health organization serving nearly 13 million Americans.
The planned strike is expected to last until Saturday morning, although staff in Virginia and Washington, D.C. will hold a one-day strike.
Kaiser Permanente has emphasized its dedication to ensuring ongoing services amid the strike, confirming that its medical centers will remain operational. The organization has activated additional medical personnel to maintain critical services and hired additional professionals to handle essential duties during the protest.
Unions claim that Kaiser has engaged in unfair labor tactics by reportedly neglecting genuine talks to solve the staffing issues.
“Medical professionals are in this field due to their deep passion,” said Caroline Lucas, head of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. “They are uneasy in roles where they feel they can’t offer the highest level of patient care.”
Brooke El-Amin, a 21-year Kaiser employee, stated that the strike’s aim is to encourage Kaiser to enhance patient services.
El-Amin mentioned, “The objective isn’t to strike, but I feel that Kaiser is already disappointing our patients and staff.”
The strike highlights concerns over rigorous work environments, employee retention, and diminishing patient care standards. As of April, union-acquired data shows an 11% vacancy in union roles.
Michelle Gaskill-Hames, a top executive at Kaiser, defended the organization’s practices and compensation, asserting that they are superior to competitors even with the challenges common to the healthcare industry.
“Our commitment is to reinvest in quality care,” she expressed.
The unions’ collective agreement expired on Sept. 30 without a successor. A recent report suggested a provisional agreement offering a 40% boost to an educational fund for further training. Nonetheless, the union coalition is pushing for a nearly 25% salary hike for all its members and better benefits, including healthcare for retirees.
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