Exclusive: Kaiser Permanente nurses to vote on strike authorization
Nurses working for Kaiser Permanente will start voting this week on whether to authorize a strike, Solano NewsNet has learned.
The first strike authorization vote is scheduled to occur on Wednesday, October 19 at Kaiser Permanente’s medical campuses in Manteca and South San Francisco, according to a flier distributed to union nurses and obtained by Solano NewsNet.
The authorization vote is being organized by the California Nurses Association, which represents over 22,000 nurses at Kaiser Permanente’s medical facilities throughout Northern California.
The group held an informal picket in September while it was in the midst of negotiating a new contract with Kaiser Permanente. The organization said Kaiser Permanente needed to address several workplace issues, including health and safety provisions over infectious diseases, workplace violence prevention and setting a minimum staff requirement to ensure patient care.
“Kaiser made more than $14 billion during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, and yet we are still struggling with chronic short staffing statewide,” Cathy Kennedy, a registered nurse and the president of the CNA, said in a statement last month. “We need more nurses to provide the care our patients deserve. There is simply no reason or excuse for nurses to be short-staffed this long into the pandemic.”
Kaiser Permanente nurses have been working without a contract since
August 31, according to a source familiar with the matter who asked for
anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The
for-profit medical organization and the union have been negotiating a
new contract since early July, the source said.
It appears Kaiser Permanente was unaware of the forthcoming strike authorization vote. In a statement sent to Solano NewsNet on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the health organization said it had "no notice of any planned labor action by our nurses."
Locally, CNA-represented nurses will vote on a strike authorization at the Vacaville medical campus on Friday, October 28 and at the Vallejo campus on Wednesday, November 2. The votes will take place in an outdoor setting so nurses and other CNA members can observe health and safety protocols, including social distancing.
The timing of the vote comes after Kaiser Permanente announced it had reached a tentative deal to end a prolonged, but otherwise separate, strike involving its union-represented mental health care workers. That walkout began in mid-August and lasted 10 weeks before a handshake agreement was reached early Tuesday morning. Union workers are expected to ratify that agreement later this week.
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