21,000 Kaiser workers on strike in light of wage disputes | New university

Employees at Kaiser Permanente Hospitals in Southern California and Oregon to go on strike over changes to their payment systems, after a vote organized by the Union of Health Care Professionals (UHCP) and the United Nurses Association of California (UNAC) from October 1. to October 10.

96% of the voters were in favor of the strike. Once the notice has been given to the employer, the strikes will begin as early as 10 days after the final vote on October 10.

Kaiser’s two-tier pay system offers a 1% increase for current workers, but pays new employees at a rate 26% to 39% lower than current employees. This system has raised concerns about the employment of nurses at Kaiser.

“We are concerned about the future of nursing and how we recruit and retain nurses and other health workers who will serve our communities for years to come,” said UHCP / UNAC President Denise Duncan.

The understaffing at Kaiser hospitals has been exacerbated by the agency’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements, resulting in the loss of 2,000 employees who have refused to be vaccinated. Current employees must be vaccinated and those on leave must receive their initial COVID-19 vaccine by December 1, or face layoff.

Kaiser created the two tier wage system to cut costs in the face of growing demand for higher wages in the medical industry.

“At the heart of our dispute is the fact that healthcare is increasingly unaffordable and rising wages are half the cost of healthcare,” said Arlene Peasnall, senior vice president of resources. human Kaiser. “Our employees represented by the Alliance unions earn around 26% above average market wages, and in some places it’s 38% above market levels.

UHCP / UNAC negotiated with Kaiser about cutting costs without enacting the new wage system for months before the strike vote.

“We brought several ideas to the table and tried to discuss them, and Kaiser didn’t even consider any of the ideas we put forward,” Jane Carter, UHCP / UNAC labor economist said in an interview with NPR.

Kaiser would rank No. 34 on the Fortune 500 list this year, with more than $ 44.5 billion in reserves and $ 2 billion in profits last year alone.

“They claim that the sky is falling or will fall in the future. And they haven’t proven it at all, ”Carter said. “In fact, it’s a very profitable business, but they are asking for big cuts from our membership, from our frontline heroes who worked day in and day out during the pandemic, who fought to keep people alive and feared. to take the virus home to their own families suffering from PTSD. “

Kaiser said they would continue to negotiate with the unions to reach a conclusion that would satisfy both parties. Kaiser plans to provide hospitals with emergency personnel in the event of a walkout.

Angela Isabel Casillas is an intern at City News for the fall term of 2021. She can be contacted at [email protected].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *