OAKLAND (CBS SF/AP) — Throughout California and Oregon, greater than 24,000 nurses and different healthcare employees at Kaiser Permanente overwhelmingly approved a strike this weekend over pay and dealing situations made worse by the coronavirus pandemic.
Oakland-based Kaiser, one of many nation’s largest well being care suppliers, has proposed a two-tiered wage and advantages system that might give newer workers decrease pay and fewer well being protections. The unions need Kaiser to desert that plan. In addition they need 4% raises for every the subsequent three years and a dedication to rent extra nurses to alleviate staffing shortages. Kaiser has supplied 1% a yr, with extra lump sums, and says it should scale back labor prices to stay aggressive.
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The regional strike vote comes amid nationwide contract negotiations between Kaiser and the Alliance of Well being Care Unions, which represents greater than 20 unions protecting greater than 50,000 Kaiser employees nationwide. Extra strike authorizations might are available in Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia, Washington state and the District of Columbia, the unions stated.
This weekend’s votes don’t mechanically set off work stoppages. The union should give Kaiser Permanente 10 days’ discover earlier than employees stroll off the job, and either side proceed bargaining after their final contract expired on Sept. 30.
The strike authorization covers nurses, pharmacists, midwives, bodily therapists and others represented by United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Well being Care Professionals. About 7,000 United Steelworkers union members, together with housekeeping attendants, customer support representatives and pharmacy technicians, additionally voted to strike if mandatory.
“We ask that our workers reject a name to stroll away from the sufferers who want them. Our precedence is to proceed to offer our members with high-quality, protected care. Within the occasion of any sort of work stoppage, our amenities will probably be staffed by our physicians together with skilled and skilled managers and contingency workers,” Kaiser Permanente responded.
Turnout among the many employees was 86%, with 96% approving a strike, the Los Angeles Occasions reported.
“It exhibits they don’t take this flippantly,” stated UNAC/UHCP President Denise Duncan, a registered nurse. “They wish to see a change.”
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Kaiser is dedicated to working rapidly to agree on a brand new contract, stated Arlene Peasnall, senior vp of human assets.
“We ask that our workers reject a name to stroll away from the sufferers who want them,” Peasnall’s assertion stated. “Within the occasion of any sort of work stoppage, our amenities will probably be staffed by our physicians together with skilled and skilled managers and contingency workers.”
The Occasions reported that Kaiser’s proposal would decrease the wage scale for nearly each job classification represented by the alliance of unions by 26% to 39% for brand new hires starting in January 2023, in response to Jane Carter, a labor economist and UNAC/UHCP’s director of analysis, regulatory affairs and public coverage. If carried out, this “two-tiered” system might breed resentment amongst employees paid at totally different charges for a similar work, trigger larger turnover and impair efforts to draw and retain expert employees, Carter stated.
“They haven’t defined their reasoning for these draconian cuts they’re proposing whereas they’re so worthwhile,” Carter stated.
The union stated Kaiser Permanente has $44 billion in money reserves and a more healthy outlook than many well being care programs.
Kaiser Permanente spokesperson Terry Kanakri stated an unbiased evaluation on behalf of the corporate discovered union-represented worker wages to be at the least 26% over market in practically all of the markets the place the corporate operates, the Occasions reported.
“Thousands and thousands of People wrestle with healthcare bills. Wanting forward, we should scale back bills to stay aggressive long run, and our wages and advantages characterize greater than 50% of our total value construction,” Kanakri stated in an electronic mail. “We’re not proposing any sort of wage or profit discount for our 48,000 present Alliance workers.”
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