Kaiser Strike

 

75,000 healthcare workers working at Kaiser hospitals all across the U.S. could go on kaiser strike next week, mostly because of understaffing issues in the event that both their unions as well as kaiser strike cannot reach an agreement on Saturday.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Hotel workers, autoworkers, Hollywood writers and actors have all been to kaiser strike in the past year.

Today 10s of hundreds of thousands of health workers from one of the nation’s largest health provider, Kaiser Permanente, are scheduled to strike too.

They claim they’re understaffed and suffer because of it. CNN’s Danielle Kaye reports.

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DANIELLE KAYE BYLINE: Pamela Reid is an optometrist working at Kaiser’s Marlow Heights Medical Center in Maryland.

PAMELIA REID: I’ve worked with Kaiser for the past 25 years.

KAYE: She claims that the care for Kaiser’s more than 13 million clients has been declining since the beginning of the pandemic COVID-19, because there’s not enough personnel.

REID: Prior to pandemic It was more like you could schedule an appointment in 5-10 business days. Post-pandemic, it’s closer to 1-to-2 months.

KAYE: Workers such as Reid prepare to striking for three consecutive days this week beginning Wednesday.

She hopes that a strike will aid in bringing the staffing levels back to normal and, ultimately, improve the care of Kaiser’s patients.

REID: They’re already impacted. The goal of the kaiser strike is hopefully to make a difference.

KAYE: Seventy-five million workers in thousands of Kaiser hospitals clinics, medical offices and hospitals across California in the state of California and Colorado from Colorado to Washington, D.C., could quit their jobs.

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It’s what their unions call the largest health strike in U.S. history. They’re requesting higher wages and more benefits to help resolve a serious staffing crisis. Around 11 percent of union jobs were unfilled in the first quarter of the year. According to the data gathered from the 12 unions who have been in discussions with Kaiser.

CAROLINE LUCAS The story went from experiencing a crisis at the horizon, to having an actual crisis right the moment is. VisitKaiser Strike

KAYE Caroline Lucas is executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions.

She claims staffing shortages have been a problem for a long time, but the mass departure of health workers in COVID, coupled with the increase in demand from patients coming back to routine appointments they have delayed due to of the epidemic has made the matter more urgent. For instance, consider the mammography division in San Diego, where employees say that the amount of biopsies they conduct has increased dramatically.

How can you increase your workload while maintain that dialed-in level of precision and focus on specifics that are required for complex diagnostics and tests for medical conditions? 

Kaye: Kaiser claims it is close to meeting its target of hiring 10,000 additional workers to fill union-related positions this year, however Lucas says that the company does not take into consideration the thousands of workers who have been going elsewhere.

She believes kaiser strike should raise the wages of employees to give them an incentive to remain.

LUCAS It is said that they are employed for 40 to 50 or 60 hour each week in a position we all have in an entire society, and that we have to fill. And they aren’t able to pay their bills at the at the end of their week.

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Kaye: Kaiser states that it gives better benefits and pay over other health care employers. The company is asking employees to decline requests to quit work to prevent harming patients.

However, workers claim that patients are already suffering due to the lack of the lack of staff in facilities and they have voted in a majority to approve the strike. A lot of those who are on strike – laboratory technicians nurses, pharmacists, and others – have witnessed the firsthand how the departure of health workers has led to a rise in the pandemic burnout. Click here

This is what Brooke El-Amin has been through. For the last 21 decades, she’s had many of posts within Kaiser in and around the Washington, D.C. area from pharmacist to technician.

BROOKE EL AMIN I really climbed up in the ranks and Kaiser really grew along with me throughout the course of the years.

KAYE: Thirty nine-year-old El-Amin claims she couldn’t envision her existence without Kaiser. When COVID came into play the area, the lack of staffing caused stress. Now, she claims that COVID has caused a deterioration in her mental well-being.

El-AMIN: I’m not going to go on kaiser strike however I’m feeling like Kaiser is has already let us down as patients. They’ve already let down their employees.

KAYE: The bargaining commissions are scheduled to meet in person on Monday – the final round of formal discussions to avoid a national walkout in the next week.

Danielle Kaye, NPR News.

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