More than 75,000 Kaiser Permanente health-care workers are preparing to go on strike after the company failed to come to an agreement with a coalition of unions representing the workers.
The coalition’s contract with Kaiser expired Saturday at 11:59 pm Pacific Time, CNN Business reported. The unions had sought to improve workers’ compensation and pension plans, and address various other issues in the new contract.
However, while the coalition said it had “good discussions with Kaiser,” the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement.
Since the two failed to come to an agreement by Saturday, the coalition said that a three-day strike would begin Wednesday.
Right now Kaiser Permanente and union leaders are trying to avoid what would be the biggest healthcare strike in US history. Their contract just expired and there are still some outstanding issues. One union worker told me they just need more. pic.twitter.com/uOsVlJK5zm
— Omar Jimenez (@OmarJimenez) October 1, 2023
“More than 75,000 Kaiser healthcare workers will be united in this work action across California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Virginia, and Washington DC,” the union coalition said, noting that this would be the largest health-care worker strike in U.S. history.
“This three-day strike will be the initial demonstration of our strength to Kaiser that we will not stand for their unfair labor practices. If Kaiser continues to commit unfair labor practices, we are prepared to engage in another longer, stronger strike in November,” the statement read.
The unions also pointed out that if Kaiser fails to agree to their terms, “additional Coalition members in Kaiser’s newest market in Washington state can join us,” since their contract expires at the end of the month.
Workers involved in the planned strike consist of medical staff such as nursing assistants, optometrists, pharmacists, X-ray and laboratory technicians, genetic counselors, and other similar occupations, according to CNN Business. It does not include doctors, registered nurses, or hospital managers.
The coalition represents about 40 percent of Kaiser’s workforce, according to CBS MoneyWatch, so the strike could result in significant backlogs in scheduling care at affected facilities.
“This is a difficult decision, and we know it will require sacrifices of us all, but Kaiser executives continue to bargain in bad faith over the solutions we urgently need to the Kaiser short staffing crisis and the safety and well being of our patients and workers is on the line,” the coalition said in its statement.
“As frontline healthcare workers, we got into this work to help people. It’s frustrating and painful to watch our patients waiting and suffering while we burn ourselves out trying to do the work of two or even three people trying to care for everyone.
“Kaiser executives have the power to solve this problem. But, despite reporting more than $3 billion in profits in the first six months of this year, they are choosing not to.”
Some of the issues brought up by the coalition included proposals to address staffing shortages, protections against subcontracting and outsourcing and the canceling of remote work.
“After months of delay, Kaiser finally responded to important issues like minimum wage, but overall, they continue to bargain in bad faith,” the coalition said.
Kaiser Permanente said in a statement just hours prior to the contract’s expiration that the executives “remain optimistic that we will reach an agreement and avoid an unnecessary strike.”
“We have contingency plans in place to ensure members continue to receive safe, high-quality care for the duration of the strike,” the company said, CNN Business reported.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.