Kaiser Permanente workers authorize strike for safer staffing and improved wages


OAKLAND, CA – OCTOBER 18: SEIU Local 1021 president Roxanne Sanchez speaks to Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers during a rally in front of the Lake Merritt BART station on the first day of the BART strike on October 18, 2013 in Oakland, California. For the second time this year, BART workers have gone on strike after contract negotiations between BART management and the transit agency’s two largest unions fell apart on Thursday afternoon. Management and unions agreed on the financial specifics of the contract but differed on workplace safety rules. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

FRESNO, California – Proposed strike action by Kaiser Permanente workers has been approved by members of the SEIU-UHW, a move which would affect more than 1,200 workers in Fresno.

The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West announced the vote results on Monday. Officials said more than 37,000 ballots were cast by California Kaiser Permanente workers and there was 98% support for a strike.

The union says their action is in response to unfair labor practices at Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics.

“This company should be all about providing the best possible patient care, but unfortunately its focus in recent years has been on making billions of dollars in profits and millions of dollars for Kaiser executives,” said Santa Clara staff member Heather Wright.

Workers want Kaiser Permanente to bargain in good faith and stop committing unfair labor practices. That includes ensuring safe staffing, building up the workforce, and protecting middle-class jobs with wages and benefits that can support families.

In response, Kaiser Permanente’s Vice President of Communications John Nelson said that the ballot question was misleading and that Kaiser Permanente has presented a contract proposal that would provide annual pay increases which would keep employees compensated higher than market averages.

Nelson added that a strike vote does not mean that a strike is imminent.

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