Members of a labor union representing 21,000 Kaiser Permanente employees in southern California have voted to allow their bargaining team to call a strike, if needed.
The United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals’ 10-day online vote comes after the union’s contract with the integrated health system expired at the end of September. Of the more than 18,000 members who voted, 96.3% voted in favor of authorizing a strike. Voting closed Sunday and the union announced the results Monday.
The Oakland-based not-for-profit integrated system offered a 1% across-the-board raise for union workers and a two-tiered pay scale that would reduce compensation for new hires compared to current employees starting in 2023, which the union opposes. The company’s proposal includes wage increases for all current employees, no changes to the retirement plan and guarantees no wage cuts for existing workers, the company said.
A strike will not happen immediately, even if the bargaining team calls one. Under federal labor law, healthcare unions are required to give employers 10 days’ notice of a strike.
A labor action by registered nurses, pharmacists, rehabilitation therapists, midwives and optometrists would affect operations at numerous Kaiser Permanente locations in southern California, the union said.
The UNAC/UHCP is among the 21 labor groups that compose the Alliance of Health Care Unions, which represents 52,000 Kaiser Permanente workers in several states. Other unions within the alliance, including the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, which represents 3,400 healthcare workers, also have been voting to authorize strikes.
Last month, the UNAC/UHCP announced it was pausing participation in Kaiser Permanente’s labor-management partnership, a 24-year-old agreement between the health system and its unions to jointly make decisions about patient care, access and quality, in protest over the contract talks.
This is a developing story and will be updated.