The largest healthcare worker strike in U.S. history is set to commence on Wednesday after negotiations between Kaiser Permanente and a coalition of labor unions failed to reach an agreement before the previous contract expired on Saturday.
Kaiser Permanente is the largest not-for-profit healthcare provider in the U.S., and its staff of over 75,000 experienced a three-day strike set to begin at 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday. The strike will affect hundreds of hospitals across several states, including California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. (notice they are mainly blue areas).
The labor unions are calling for increased staffing levels, citing a “short-staffing crisis” at the hospitals that could lead to dangerously long wait times, mistaken diagnoses, and neglect for patients. They are also accusing the company of having unfair labor practices. One worker described “burning out” as they try to do the jobs of two or three people while patients suffer from lack of care due to short-staffing.
Does anyone want to guess why there are staffing shortages in these blue areas? Remember those vaccine mandates back in 2020 where healthcare workers were fired (or resigned) if they didn’t get the COVID jab?
Kaiser did impose a vaccine mandate on their workers.
Thousands of healthcare workers were either fired or resigned as a result of the mandate.
Now, there’s a shortage.
You could have seen this coming a mile away.
The unions are asking for a 24.5% wage increase including protections against subcontracting and outsourcing, as well as the right to organize a union at any hospital that Kaiser may acquire. However, Kaiser’s latest proposal over the weekend included wage increases of 16% and 12.5% over the life of the contract in addition to a redesigned performance sharing plan, updated outsourcing offer, employee development funding, and improved retiree medical benefits.
Kaiser has argued that the healthcare worker shortage is an industry-wide problem; however, they have managed to hire over 50,000 frontline workers in the past two years. They have also apparently reached a goal of hiring 10,000 new people for coalition-represented jobs by the end of September. The company also states that if the strike does take place, hospitals and emergency rooms will remain open and staffed.