Kaiser Mental Health Strike: Day 5
Friday, December 14
We did it! We staged the largest mental health care workers strike in U.S. history. Over five days, thousands of us staged nearly 70 pickets outside 32 Kaiser facilities from San Diego to Sacramento.
Our strike inspired hundreds of people to share their stories about Kaiser denying them timely mental health care. And we made mental health care — and Kaiser’s refusal to do it right — one of the biggest stories of the week in California.
We generated well over 300 news reports on the strike including articles in USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, Santa Rosa Press Democrat and San Jose Mercury News. You can find more media coverage here.
On Friday, we braved the rain in the Bay Area and celebrated our achievements on picket lines across the state.
In Oakland, NUHW President Sal Rosselli gave members an update on the success of our strike, our growing political and community support, and an upcoming meeting with Kaiser executives.
In Riverside, Baldwin Park and San Diego, we owned the streets and the medical centers. Our feeling of empowerment was infectious as we were joined by Union Pipefitters and members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who walked off their jobs in solidarity with our strike and walked our picket lines. Other union, including AFSCME 3299, AFGE and representatives from the SD Labor Council, also showed their support. We continued to enjoy political and community support throughout Southern California, with Rev. Cheri Metier from IWJSD, USC students from Student Coalition Against Labor Exploitation (SCALE), and Congressmember Mark Takano.
In Northern California, our picket at Oakland Medical Center was epic — we had a vocal and robust crowd of more than 400 NUHW members, CNA members, Kaiser optical workers, members of other unions, and other supporters and friends. In Oakland, members marched a mile and a half from the hospital to Kaiser’s corporate headquarters and held a boisterous rally outside their office windows. We also heard impassioned speeches from members of NUHW and CNA, and observed 42 seconds of silence representing the 42-day average wait to get a therapy appointment. We marched back to the medical center, where we were regaled by a five-piece brass band. Our Oakland was covered by KPFA Radio and the East Bay Times.
Our picket line in Santa Clara was joined by 40 nurses, about a dozen Teamsters (including UPS drivers), Engineers, SEIU members, and a Kaiser mental health patient. In South Sacramento, we had a lively noontime rally with a band playing old labor songs, and our picket was covered by the Sacramento Bee. We had many special guests at our Santa Rosa picket, including Santa Rosa Vice Mayor Chris Rogers (who also brought donuts), Santa Rosa Councilmember-Elect Victoria Fleming, and members and reps from CNA, IUOE Local 39, SEIU-UHW, SEIU Local 1021, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 3, NALC Branch 183 North Coast, Cement Masons Local 300, the Staff Nurse Association (SNA), North Bay Jobs with Justice, H-PEACE, and the North Bay Labor Council. In the Central Valley, we staged picket lines in Fresno and Modesto. In Fresno, we were joined by members of the California Teachers Association and Democratic Socialists of America. In Modesto, our noontime rally featured two clinicians and two nurses.
We should be proud of what we accomplished this week. All Kaiser could do was spew lies about our motives and try to make us feel guilty about standing up for ourselves and our patients.
Kaiser couldn’t fight us with facts, because they know the facts are on our side. And after this week, more Californians than ever know that too.
The ball is now in Kaiser’s court. They know we mean business. We’re ready to settle a contract, but they have to live up to their promises and finally start treating us and our patients with full dignity and respect.
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