Mental health clinicians strike; Kaiser locks them out of headquarters

October 31st, 2019

With a Kaiser mental health clinicians preparing for a 5-day statewide strike beginning Nov. 11, caregivers at clinics in Simi Valley and Lomita held a separate strike in October to demand that Kaiser provide them with the same retirement benefits as nearly all other employees.

“Every Kaiser employee at my clinic has a pension, except for me and my fellow mental health clinicians,” said Pattye Cruz, a therapist at the Simi Valley clinic. “This makes it harder for Kaiser to recruit and retain qualified clinicians, and leaves patients waiting too long to receive care.”

Clinicians at Kaiser’s Simi Valley clinic were on strike Monday, Oct. 28 and Tuesday, Oct. 29. Clinicians in the Lomita clinic held a one-day strike on the 29th, during which they joined with their colleagues from Simi Valley for actions outside Kaiser headquarters in Pasadena and the Los Angeles Medical Center, where clinicians have maintained an ongoing presence for more than two weeks. 

In Pasadena, Kaiser officials locked out the striking workers, in an attempt to prevent them from delivering a letter to top executives.

While Kaiser recently agreed to maintain pensions for 140,000 employees, it’s refusing to restore pensions for mental health clinicians and other NUHW members that Kaiser unilaterally rescinded in 2015. 

“Kaiser says it wants to hire more therapists to address staff shortages,” Cruz said. “But how can we take Kaiser seriously when it’s offering mental health clinicians benefits that are vastly inferior to 140,000 other employees?”