Kaiser Permanente Strikes

A recent strike broke out throughout Kaiser Permanente for breaking part of the contract. The health system’s proposal to higher wages and benefits for the workers. Employees were guaranteed Kaiser’s service once they joined the company. The agreement included annual wage increases, career development and advancement opportunities for employees. According to Healthcare Finance, “Kaiser Permanente, for its part, had maintained that it was attempting to address the unaffordable costs of healthcare, saying wages and benefits accounted for half the system’s operational costs”. Kaiser Permanente has been desperately trying to keep this agreement in check, but with the pandemic rolling in, it is easier said than done. 

Before the pandemic, strikes existed because thousands of unions called out unfair labor practices. Around 80,000 workers threatened to walk out of Kaiser Permanente. Workers have been claiming, without evidence, that “Kaiser had been automating and outsourcing union jobs, raising patient premiums, understaffing its facilities and attempting to reduce wages and benefits as it underwent union contract negotiations” (Lagasse). 

Due to the pandemic, these strikes have worsened. Many employees around the world, not just in Kaiser, but in almost every company, are losing their jobs. This is due to the fact that in the remote and isolated world we live in, there are certain jobs that are not necessary any more.  Mainly healthcare workers at Kaiser are leaving, resulting in losses of revenue in the company. Without the support of their workers, they find it difficult to keep up with the agreement they initially came up with. As a result, multiple strikes around California broke out. Take the sympathy strike as an example. 36,000 Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers in Northern California voted to carry out a one day sympathy strike in the Bay Area for Kaiser engineers who have been on strike for around two months. This strike started and ended on November 18, 2021. 

Member of the Pharmacy Union, Mina Pham from Santa Clara, was on strike for two days. Her Union did not strike at their respective hospitals, but rather gathered at the headquarters with all workers in North California. However, Kaiser was able to negotiate and resolve the issue quickly, so Pham participated in the strike for a short time.

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