If workers authorize an unfair labor practice strike in a vote set to end later this week, thousands of health care workers at Kaiser Permanente Washington locations, including medical centers in Kent, Renton and Federal Way, will join the national Kaiser Permanente strike on Nov. 1.
Union and member leaders of Kent-based SEIU (Service Employees International Union) Healthcare 1199NW, which represents approximately 3,000 healthcare workers at 36 Kaiser Permanente Washington locations around the state, have been in negotiations with Kaiser since August fighting for a strong contract that protects both workers and patients, according an Oct 9 union news release.
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is part of the national Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions that led the recent strike, but contracts for Kaiser Permanente workers aren’t set to expire until the end of October.
Jane Hopkins, registered nurse and president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, made the following statement:
“This is an historic moment for our union, joining in solidarity with health care workers and their unions all across the country, using our collective strength to fight for health care workers and patients,” Hopkins said. “If our members vote yes this week to authorize a strike we’ll be joining tens of thousands of health care workers across the nation to increase pressure on Kaiser Permanente to address the staffing crisis it helped create.
“The thousands of Washington health care workers in SEIU Healthcare 1199NW are proud to stand with our union siblings as we fight together for a fair contract that ensures safety for our members and better care for patients.”
Kaiser Permanente issued the following statement through a spokesperson’s email:
“We have received notice from the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions for a potential strike beginning Nov. 1 to Nov. 8,” according to the Oct. 9 email. “We are scheduled to return to the bargaining table on Oct. 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.”
According to the union, central to the negotiations are health care workers’ concerns about unsafe staffing levels that could lead to dangerously long wait times, misdiagnoses and neglect. After years of the COVID-19 pandemic and chronic understaffing, the union said Kaiser Permanente Washington health care workers are calling on management to bargain in good faith to reach a contract that will help provide safe staffing levels.
Results of the Kaiser Permanente WA strike authorization vote will be announced Friday, Oct. 13.
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and health care workers with over 31,000 caregivers throughout hospitals, clinics, mental health, skilled home health and hospice programs in Washington state and Montana.