NUHW’s Kaiser fight discussed on labor podcast

February 7th, 2018

NUHW President Sal Rosselli and Clem Papazian, a psychiatric social worker at Kaiser Permanente, appeared on a leading labor podcast this month to discuss our five-year fight to improve access to mental health care at the nation’s largest HMO.

Host Jonathan Tasini lauded NUHW’s campaign as “social movement unionism at its best,” during the 25-minute segment on The Working Life Podcast.

Roughly 4,000 Kaiser mental health clinicians joined NUHW in 2010, embarking on a five-year struggle, including multiple strikes, to sound the alarm about patients not having timely access to care.

Rosselli, who has led healthcare unions for more than three decades, marveled that a majority of the clinicians voluntarily collected $94 in monthly dues to finance their fight even though they had no contract. “It was extraordinary how these folks self-organized,” he said.

Papazian, who is also an NUHW executive board member and elected leader of our Kaiser unit of Northern California mental health professionals, said his colleagues “couldn’t have been more pleased” that they left SEIU-UHW to join our union.

The clinicians quickly “appreciated that NUHW had the skill set to bring the fight to Kaiser in a very meaningful way.”

Rosselli said that NUHW is continuing its efforts to improve mental health care and represent more clinicians. The union, he said, is exploring how to organize independent workers, who have to contract with major insurers, but have no power to ensure that their patients receive timely care.

Click here to listen to the interview, which begins at the 36:22 mark.