Unions serve Kaiser executives with official notice that follow-up strike is possible

Could occur Nov. 1 – 8

Kaiser Permanente “will continue to bargain in good faith with the Coalition”

By Allen D. Payton

Ahead of continued negotiations scheduled for Thursday and Friday the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions issued the following press release on Tuesday, October 10, 2023:

As an acute and dire staffing crisis continues at hundreds of their facilities, Kaiser executives have been served official notice that another significant work action by their employees could be possible from November 1 to November 8, 2023. Those employees remain concerned about unsafe staffing levels, the company’s labor law violations, securing adequate wages to stay on the job and attract new workers, and the company’s outsourcing threats against workers just recently hailed as heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Outsourcing, in particular, has emerged as a major sticking point in negotiations, as Kaiser executives have refused to agree to common sense limitations on subcontracting and outsourcing, which keep experienced healthcare workers in jobs and provide strong continuity of care for patients.

“It’s simple: Kaiser executives need to be investing in healthcare workers right now amidst this short staffing crisis, not discarding them through a variety of expensive outsourcing schemes,” said Tamara Chew, a Healthcare Plan Representative, Kaiser Permanente, Roseville. “I can’t understand why anyone in the Kaiser boardroom thinks corporate outsourcing threats are the way to treat a workforce that just a short time ago were being hailed as heroes.”

Frontline healthcare workers say they will wait until November 1 for any potential further strike action, when an additional contract covering workers in Seattle expires, and to give Kaiser executives more time to organize themselves around viable proposals. The Seattle contract’s expiration on October 31, 2023 at midnight would enable another 3,000 healthcare workers also impacted by the Kaiser short staffing crisis to join strike lines in another major west coast metropolitan area. Workers in southern Washington state were part of the initial wave of action, and now those actions could be taking place at Seattle facilities, representing a significant potential expansion of the labor actions at Kaiser. Seattle is one of Kaiser’s newer emerging markets and an area that has been targeted by the company for future corporate growth.

If healthcare workers strike again on November 1, the strike will begin at 6 AM local times and continue until November 8, 6 AM local times.

Healthcare workers have made clear they hope not to strike again and that while taking the legal steps necessary to prepare for that possibility, they are primarily focused on encouraging Kaiser executives to follow the law and to listen to the needs of patients and healthcare workers who are buckling under the current short staffing crisis within Kaiser facilities. Bargaining resumes on October 12 and October 13.

“For months, Kaiser executives failed to listen to the feedback from frontline healthcare workers about the need for executives to follow the law in negotiations and about the impacts that the Kaiser short staffing is having on patients,” said Caroline Lucas, Executive Director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. “This week, Kaiser executives will have another opportunity to listen to frontline staff, to follow the law in formal discussions, and to begin investing in ways that will solve the Kaiser short staffing crisis.” 

The Kaiser workers are united within the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, a coalition of eleven unions that spans Washington, D.C. to the U.S. West Coast. 

That coalition expects to hold a media briefing following the conclusion of this Friday’s negotiation sessions, unless those sessions continue further into the weekend, at which time an alternate briefing time may be announced. 

Similar to the first strike, a potential second strike would involve workers from Kaiser facilities in California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. 

It would include frontline healthcare workers employed as registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, emergency department technicians, radiology technicians, ultrasound sonographers, teleservice representatives, respiratory therapists, x-ray technicians, optometrists, certified nursing assistants, dietary services, behavioral health workers, surgical technicians, pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, transporters, home health aides, phlebotomists, medical assistants, dental assistants, call center representatives, and housekeepers, among hundreds of other positions.


The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions represents 85,000 Kaiser healthcare workers in seven states and the District of Columbia. In April, the Coalition began its national bargaining process ahead of the September 30th contract expiration. On September 22nd, Coalition unions representing 75,000 Kaiser healthcare workers gave Kaiser executives 10-day notices for an unfair labor practice strike beginning Oct. 4. Last week’s actions led by workers across multiple states and in Washington, D.C. constituted the largest strike of healthcare workers in U.S. history, running from Wednesday, October 4 – Saturday, October 7, as frontline healthcare workers from hundreds of Kaiser facilities took to picket lines decrying the company’s unfair labor practices and chronic short staffing practices. On October 9, Coalition unions issued a second 10-day notice for a strike that may commence on November 1. The Coalition and Kaiser Permanente last negotiated a contract in 2019, before healthcare workers found themselves on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic that has worsened working conditions and exacerbated a healthcare staffing crisis.

At issue, healthcare workers say, are a series of unfair labor practices related to bargaining in bad faith, along with simmering staff concerns related to unsafe staffing levels that can lead to dangerously long wait times, mistaken diagnosis, and neglect. Outsourcing threats by Kaiser executives have also emerged as a sticking point in negotiations. After years of the COVID pandemic and chronic understaffing, Kaiser healthcare workers are calling on management to provide safe staffing levels.

Workers say that Kaiser is committing unfair labor practices and also that understaffing is boosting Kaiser’s profits but hurting patients. In a recent survey of 33,000 employees, 2/3 of workers said they’d seen care delayed or denied due to short staffing. After three years of the COVID pandemic and chronic understaffing, healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente are calling on management to provide safe staffing levels.

Kaiser has reported ​​$3 billion in profits in just the first six months of this year. Despite being a non-profit organization – which means it pays no income taxes on its earnings and extremely limited property taxes – Kaiser has reported more than $24 billion in profit over the last five years. Kaiser’s CEO was compensated more than $16 million in 2021, and forty-nine executives at Kaiser are compensated more than $1 million annually. Kaiser Permanente has investments of $113 billion in the US and abroad, including in fossil fuels, casinos, for-profit prisons, alcohol companies, military weapons and more.


Kaiser Responds

In response, Kaiser Permanente issued the following statement: “We have received notice from the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions for a potential second strike, beginning November 1 to November 8. We are scheduled to return to the bargaining table on October 12 and Kaiser Permanente remains committed to reaching an agreement that is good for our employees, our members, and our organization, and we will continue to bargain in good faith with the Coalition.”  

The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions unites more than 85,000 healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente facilities in California, Colorado, Oregon, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington.

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