Kaiser professionals fighting for better patient care
Kaiser Permanente is making little effort to settle a contract with more than 4,000 of its caregivers.
The contract for these union-represented healthcare professionals expires September 30, yet during three months and 28 bargaining sessions, Kaiser has not offered a meaningful response to its employees’ concerns regarding staffing, patient access to appointments, or work-life balance, nor has the company responded to workers’ wage and benefit proposals. Kaiser has not even been willing to give these workers, who are represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, the same protections it offers to members of other unions.
The result: low morale, burnout, and higher turnover, which makes it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain quality caregivers. And that in turn makes it difficult for patients to get the care they deserve.
But caregivers are taking action. Four thousand Kaiser employees throughout California are wearing stickers and buttons to work this week to call attention to Kaiser’s failure to address patient care and access issues at the bargaining table. This is the first step in publicly urging Kaiser Permanente management to provide better patient access, improve staffing, and offer a fair wage and benefit package in order to recruit and retain qualified caregivers.
Kaiser’s approach to contract negotiations is in direct contrast with the company’s vow to work collaboratively with its caregivers to make Kaiser the national leader in primary and mental healthcare and the employer of choice.
As Miranda Buxton, a Bargaining Committee member and licensed clinical social worker on the Child Therapy Team at Kaiser Oakland, told Kaiser managers, “We are the change makers for better patient care. It’s bigger than Kaiser, but it starts here with us.”