Union announces picket dates for striking Kaiser mental health workers


(Photo via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by Solano NewsNet)

The union representing more than 2,000 mental health workers employed by Kaiser Permanente has announced a tentative schedule of picket dates connected to the organization's indefinite strike.

The first Solano County-area picket will take place in two weeks and over the course of two days, the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) said.

Last week, Solano NewsNet reported the union had affirmed a strike after it accused Kaiser Permanente of failing to provide adequate behavioral health care to its patients. In a statement, a spokesperson for the union accused Kaiser Permanente of raking in profits while failing to provide standard levels of care for its mental health patients.

"Patients are getting ripped off while Kaiser’s coffers are bulging," Sal Rosselli, the president of UNHW, said in the statement. "We don’t take striking lightly, but it’s time to take a stand and make Kaiser spend some of its billions on mental health care."

A spokesperson for Kaiser Permanente colored the strike as a bargaining chip while the union continues to negotiate a new contract with the health maintenance organization (HMO). Kaiser Permanente is one of the country's largest and most-profitable HMOs; the health company says union workers routinely use the threat of strikes as a negotiating tactic.

"It is especially disappointing that NUHW is asking our dedicated and compassionate employees to walk away from their patients when they need us most," Deb Catsavas, the senior vice president of human resources for Kaiser Permanente, told Solano NewsNet by e-mail last week.

Local Kaiser Permanente employees will picket at the Vallejo campus first, with the walk-out scheduled for Wednesday, August 17 between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. The following day, mental health workers will picket at the Vacaville hospital between the hours of 6 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The full schedule of Solano County-area Kaiser Permanente pickets is below:

  • Wednesday, August 17: Vallejo from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 18: Vacaville from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Monday, August 22: Vallejo from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Tuesday, August 23: Vacaville from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday, August 24: Vallejo from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, August 25: Vacaville from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Friday, August 26: Vallejo from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The strike is not expected to affect other health services offered at Kaiser
Permanente's hospitals, including emergency and routine medical care.

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