Health Care & Insurance  September 12, 2019

SEIU members authorize strike against Kaiser Permanente

Strike will begin Oct. 1 unless new agreement is reached

Listen to our conversation with KUNC on the possibility of a Kaiser Permanente strike. The segment begins at 13:00.

About 3,500 unionized health care workers across Colorado voted to strike against health-care network and insurer Kaiser Permanente Oct. 1 if the two sides don’t reach a new agreement.

Service Employees International Union Local 105, the union representing those workers, said 92 percent of its members voted to approve the strike upon the expiry of the bargaining agreement with Kaiser Sept. 30, joining 85,000 other Kaiser Permanente employees mulling strikes.

A total of 62 percent of eligible members voted in the election.

In a statement, SEIU Local 105 health-care vice president Patricia Johnson-Gibson said Kaiser has strayed from its health-care mission and is focusing too deeply on profitability, and SEIU workers are prepared to stop working while officials on both sides continue to negotiate.

“Kaiser workers in Colorado are prepared to do what it takes to get Kaiser back on track as the health-care provider that helps patients, employees and communities thrive,” she said.

Kaiser, which is based in Oakland, California, is affiliated with more than 20 health providers across Northern Colorado, the Boulder Valley and the Denver metro area. However, a total of 396 workers at company-owned offices in Fort Collins, Greeley, Loveland, Brighton, Longmont, Lafayette and Boulder are eligible to strike.

The two sides have been deadlocked over SEIU chapter demands for higher raises, smaller staff-to-patient ratios and other concessions.

In a prepared statement, Kaiser spokeswoman Amy Whited said the network will continue to negotiate with SEIU and other union chapters representing Kaiser employees across the United States. However, she said SEIU’s demands would dampen Kaiser’s ability to provide affordable care.

“At a time when we are working hard to keep our care affordable, the coalition’s demands are not fair to our members and the communities we serve,” she said. “Coalition-represented employees in Colorado are already compensated on average 23 percent above market rates. The coalition’s proposal would actually increase wages on average 32 percent above the market over the next five years, adding a billion dollars to our labor costs.”

Listen to our conversation with KUNC on the possibility of a Kaiser Permanente strike. The segment begins at 13:00.

About 3,500 unionized health care workers across Colorado voted to strike against health-care network and insurer Kaiser Permanente Oct. 1 if the two sides don’t reach a new agreement.

Service Employees International Union Local 105, the union representing those workers, said 92 percent of its members voted to approve the strike upon the expiry of the bargaining agreement with Kaiser Sept. 30, joining 85,000 other Kaiser Permanente employees mulling strikes.

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