Kaiser harassing, intimidating mental health workers in advance of strike

November 13th, 2015

Despite its legal obligation to provide care during a strike, Kaiser is conducting blanket cancellations of therapy appointments

HMO using robocalls to cancel patients’ appointments without regard to their treatment needs 

 

OAKLAND — Kaiser Permanente is harassing and intimidating its mental health clinicians to prevent them from participating in an open-ended strike scheduled to begin Monday, November 16. 

NUHW-represented clinicians not only gave Kaiser the legally required 10-day notice of the strike but provided 25 days notice by informing Kaiser of the clinicians’ overwhelming vote to strike if Kaiser did not address the patient care and retaliation issues. Since then, Kaiser managers have been interrogating clinicians individually, demanding to know if they plan to participate in the strike and for how long. A strike is a protected labor activity and Kaiser is legally prohibited from questioning, intimidating, or coercing workers to prevent their participation. 

Contrary to Kaiser’s inflammatory statements to media, NUHW clinician-leaders counseled their colleagues to use a form (included below) to inform Kaiser managers which of their patients may require special attention during the strike. In response to Kaiser’s bullying tactics, NUHW’s lawyers sent a memo to clinicians informing them of their rights. The memo reads in part:

“Federal law explicitly protects the right of all employees to strike, including doctors and other medical professionals…. We recommend that you do not respond to any questioning from Kaiser Managers about the strike. We also recommend that you make your own decision to participate in the strike, separate and apart from any threats that any manager may make to you.” 

Kaiser quoted selectively from the memo to give a false impression of its contents. The full memo is here: https://nuhw.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2015-11-12-MEMO-to-Mental-Health-Clinicians-IBHS-Unit.pdf

Patients and clinicians are reporting that Kaiser, despite its legal obligation to provide care during the strike, is unilaterally canceling patients’ appointments without regard to their treatment needs. Patients report that Kaiser has even resorted to automated phone calls to mental health patients to cancel appointments. 

“It is unsafe to make blanket cancellations of mental health treatments,” said Clement Papazian, a psychiatric social worker at Kaiser Oakland. “It is no less irresponsible than making blanket cancellations of oncology or cardiology appointments.”

“Kaiser has been telling the press that services will continue without interruption, but these blanket cancellations show that’s clearly false,” said Rosselli. “Federal and state law requires Kaiser to care for these patients. Kaiser created this crisis, and they had plenty of notice that a strike would occur if they refused to deal with it.” 

NUHW is filing a complaint regarding the cancellations today with the Department of Managed Health Care. 

The form NUHW members have filled out and submitted to Kaiser managers:

Dear manager,

 

In light of my upcoming absence beginning November 16, I want to alert you of the following patients in my panel who require special attention due to their condition and treatment plan: 

 

_____________

 

_____________

 

_____________

 

_____________

 

_____________

 

_____________

 

 

Thank you.

The National Union of Healthcare Workers is a democratic, member-led union that represents 11,000 California healthcare workers, Kaiser mental health clinicians, optical workers, and healthcare professionals.

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