More than 75,000 Kaiser Permanente employees are planning to leave work for three days over stalled negotiations starting on Wednesday, making it the most significant strike of healthcare workers in U.S. history.
The walkout has “immediate repercussions for thousands of patients nationally” because of the disagreements over “compensation, outsourcing, and staffing.”
The previous employment agreement ended on Saturday night. Experts say it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that a strike would be avoided through discussions, affecting Kaiser Permanente in Colorado, California, the District of Columbia, Virginia, Oregon, and Washington.
The disagreement comes against a backdrop of revitalized U.S. labor activity, with unions asserting themselves in the face of rising inflation and post-pandemic labor shortages. While a five-month Hollywood writers’ strike has ended, the United Auto Workers have begun walkouts at the Big Three U.S. manufacturers.
The effects of strikes in manufacturing and the entertainment industry can be pushed back. Contrast this with the healthcare sector, where urgent consequences for patient care exist. The effect will also be varied in other regions. Kaiser, for example, said that union members in Virginia and D.C. intend to go on strike for one day, whereas no one in Maryland has such intentions.
Nurses, therapists, technicians, caterers, maintenance workers, and cleaners are all reportedly part of the list of possible strikers.
Kaiser Permanente’s top brass announced their latest proposal on a company blog detailing salary raises, a new minimum wage for union members, a revamped performance-sharing plan, and a streamlined recruitment process.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has recorded 42 strikes involving 1,000 or more workers between January 2022 and August of this year. According to its tally, one in three strikes occurred in the healthcare sector.
Healthcare workers are more resistant to going on strike, according to John August of Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.
Few people, if any, seek the opportunity to go on strike. Those in the medical field, however, have unique challenges. You are abandoning infants, the old, and the ill.