75,000 Kaiser Permanente health care workers launch historic health care strike

75,000 Kaiser Permanente health care workers across the U.S. have launched the largest health care strike in history, mainly over staffing shortages that have worsened since the pandemic.

Driving the news: The workers, including nurses, technicians, and pharmacists, have walked off their jobs in several states including California, Colorado, and Virginia.
* The strike, expected to last until Saturday morning for most of the participants, aims to pressure their employer to address the staffing crisis.
* The unions claim that 11% of union positions were vacant as of April, resulting in tough working conditions and deterioration in patient care quality.

Pushback: Kaiser denies accusations of engaging in unfair labor practices and refusing to bargain earnestly.
* It has stated that hospitals and emergency departments will remain open throughout the strike, with onboarding professionals to service in critical roles.
* Non-emergency and elective services may get rescheduled, and access to medication will be provided even if outpatient pharmacies temporarily close.

Negotiations standstill: The collective bargaining agreement expired on September 30, with no new agreement in place.
* The unions are demanding a pay raise of almost 25%, along with improved benefits.
* Kaiser’s counteroffer includes raises ranging from 12.5-16% over four years and a commitment to hiring 10,000 more people in union roles by the end of 2023.
* Kaiser argues that the entire healthcare industry is grappling with staffing shortages and burnout, not just them, and they offer better compensation and benefits packages than most.

View original article on NPR

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