More than 57,000 Service Employees International Union (SEIU)-United Healthcare Workers West (VHW) members, who work in Kaiser Permanente’s California facilities, recently voted by a 98-percent margin to authorize an unfair labor practices strike against the corporation, beginning in October.
To highlight the proposed strike, thousands of Kaiser Permanente workers held a Labor Day protest to protest Kaiser’s unfair labor practices and its shift from prioritizing patients and the community to profits and enriching top executives.
A number of patients, clergy, politicians and community allies joined the protest, walking a mile from Los Angeles City College to the Sunset Boulevard Kaiser Permanente Medical Center.
“On the one day meant to recognize working people, it’s a shame that Kaiser Permanente is attacking the same employees who made it successful in the first place,” said Verna Hampton, a service representative at the West L.A. medical center.
“We reject what Kaiser has become and instead urge the corporation to join us in the fight to provide quality patient care and protect good, middle-class jobs that America needs.”
Similar Labor Day protests were held by Kaiser employees in Oakland, Sacramento and Portland, Ore.
The nonprofit healthcare system has more than 250,000 employees nationwide, making the proposed strike the nation’s largest union action since the Teamster’s walkout at the United Parcel Service in 1997.
The worker’s national contract—which includes a coalition of unions in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia—expired on Sept. 30, 2018. The coalition attests that:
• Kaiser Permanente made $5.2 billion in the first half of 2019;
• Provides more than $1 million in annual compensation to 36 executives, including $16 million to its CEO;
• Fails to serve its share of low-income patients compared to other non-profit health systems;
• Attempts to outsource jobs to outside companies that pay workers less and offer fewer benefits;
• Commitment of more than $1.2 billion to luxury items, including $900 million for a new corporate headquarters in Oakland and $295 million sponsorship deal with the Golden State Warriors.
Kaiser regards VHW attacks on it’s finances and sponsorship as breaches of the labor management partnership principals