More Than 75,000 Workers Strike At Hundreds Of Kaiser Permanente Health Facilities Across U.S.

Kaiser strike

Some 75,000 Kaiser Permanente workers, who say understaffing is hurting patient care, walked off the job Wednesday in multiple states, kicking off a major health care strike amid an extraordinary year for U.S. labor organizing and work stoppages.

Kaiser Permanente is one of the country’s larger insurers and health care system operators, with 39 hospitals nationwide. The nonprofit company, based in Oakland, California, provides health coverage for nearly 13 million people, sending customers to clinics and hospitals it runs or contracts with to provide care.

The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, representing about 85,000 of the health system’s employees nationally, approved a strike for three days in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, and for one day in Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Unions that represent Kaiser workers are demanding long-term investments to address a staffing shortage in addition to better pay and benefits. Negotiations between Kaiser executives and workers are ongoing.

Caroline Lucas, executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, said the staffing crisis has led to unsafe working conditions and deteriorating care for patients.

“We continue to have front-line health-care workers who are burnt out and stretched to the max and leaving the industry,”

“We have folks getting injured on the job because they’re trying to do too much and see too many people and work too quickly. It’s not a sustainable situation.”

Kaiser said it has contingency plans to ensure patients continue to receive care during a strike. All hospitals and emergency departments will remain open, according to the company.

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