This morning, more than 75,000 unionized employees of Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health providers, walked off the job. The three-day strike marks the largest health care worker strike in US history. Via CNN Business:
The striking employees, who work across California, Colorado, Washington, Virginia, Oregon and Washington, DC, are represented by a coalition of eight unions that comprise 40% of Kaiser Permanente’s total staff. The vast majority of the striking workers are in West Coast states. The strike began at 6 am local time, and will run through Saturday morning.
The unprecedented strike comes at a time of heightened labor activity across the United States, with tens of thousands of workers across multiple industries taking to the picket lines for better pay and benefits. In the wake of pandemic, however, health care workers in particular have been fighting for safer and more secure work environments. They are demanding improved staffing levels, arguing that current staff shortages are compromising patient care and taking many workers to a breaking point.
Employees on the picket lines include nursing staff, dietary workers, receptionists, optometrists, and pharmacists. The strike effort comes after the workers’ union contracts expired at 11:59 pm PT on September 30. Negotiations between the union and Kaiser Permanente continued into Wednesday, according to James Santos, field coordinator for the coalition of Kaiser unions in Virginia, but he said no deal to avert the strike had yet been reached.