Kaiser Permanente Colorado workers vote to authorize possible strike

A union representing about 3,000 employees of Kaiser Permanente Colorado voted this week to authorize up to a two-week strike, meaning they could walk out after their contract expires on Sept. 30.

Services Employees International Union Local 105 estimated Friday evening that about 99% of its members who voted were in favor of authorizing the strike.

“Going on strike is the last thing we want to do,” said Patricia Johnson Gibson, vice president of health care at SEIU Local 105 and a 25-year Kaiser employee. “But we have been pushed to the brink. We’re fighting for liveable wages, safer staffing levels and, most importantly, patient care. Kaiser has shown numerous times that they’ll resort to unfair labor practices, and we’re willing to do whatever it takes to make sure these facilities are properly staffed and patients have access to the best quality care.”

The union represents about half of Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s employees, including technicians, front office staff, licensed practical nurses and people working in billing and customer service.

The authorization doesn’t guarantee a strike will happen. Kaiser Permanente Colorado said negotiations are progressing, and even if the two sides can’t reach a deal by the end of the month, the union’s bargaining committee could opt to keep talking if it thinks a resolution is close.

Votes will continue across the U.S. over the next couple of weeks as 85,000 health care workers represented by the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions decide whether to authorize a strike. The union says that should it decide to walk out, it would be the largest strike by health care workers in U.S. history.

“This week, we sent a strong message to Kaiser management,” said Stephanie Felix-Sowy, president of SEIU Local 105, in a statement. “We’re ready to bargain, and we’re ready to do what’s necessary to secure a strong contract for health care workers in Colorado.”

Kaiser Permanente has more than 500,000 members in Colorado, as well as 33 medical offices in the state and a network of affiliated physicians and hospitals.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get health news sent straight to your inbox.

Source: Read Full Article