Striking employees say staff shortages have left them feeling overworked and burnt out. In a recent statement, Kaiser Permanente said it has agreed to accelerate hiring, setting a goal of hiring 10,000 new people for union-represented jobs by the end of 2023.
The union coalition is demanding higher pay, a strategy by Kaiser Permanente management to tackle chronic staff shortages, protections against outsourcing, and earlier notice when management calls remote workers back to in-person work.
According to an update by the SEIU-UHW, negotiating progress was made before the strike began, though management and the unions are still far apart regarding employee raises.
Kaiser Permanente has offered location-dependent wage increases, with a maximum of 4% for each of the four years of the new contract, according to an October 1 update by SEIU-UHW. The coalition rejected that offer, saying such a raise proposal fails to keep up with the cost of living.
The coalition is asking for an across-the-board 6.5% raise in the first two years of the labor contract and a 5.75% raise in the next two years.
“Workers are really being squeezed right now,” Renee Saldana, a spokesperson for SEIU-UHW, told CNN. “They went through the worst global health crisis in a generation and then they come out and they’re worried about paying rent, they’re worried about losing their house, they’re worried about living in their cars.”
In a statement, Kaiser Permanente said it is a leader in pay.
“We lead total compensation in every market where we operate, and our proposals in bargaining would ensure we keep that position,” a spokesperson for Kaiser Permanente said in a statement.
Kaiser Permanente management and union representatives agreed on some of the union’s demands. For example, Kaiser Permanente agreed to renew outsourcing and subcontracting protections for many workers, and decided on 60-day notice before remote staff are required to return to in-person work, according to SEIU-UHW.