After months of negotiations and low wage proposals that workers say would accelerate the staffing crisis, union workers are voting on whether or not to authorize a strike.
PORTLAND, Ore.— The staff at Kaiser Permanente represented by the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP) will join members of several other unions across the country in voting to authorize a strike. Negotiations both at the local level and at the national level as a part of the 21-union Alliance of Healthcare Unions, have started to break down as Kaiser offers low 1% hourly wage raises and a two-tiered pay system that would offer much lower compensation to newly hired professionals. These proposals would accelerate the already devastating staffing crisis, putting our patients at risk in the future.
“Striking is always our last resort, but Kaiser seems determined to push forward proposals that would hurt staff, patients, and our entire public health system,” says Jodi Barschow, a Kaiser RN and President of OFNHP. “Kaiser needs to do the right thing and put our patients before profits.”
Over the past few weeks, Kaiser Permanente Registered Nurses, represented by the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP), have filled out a survey asking how they are responding to the crisis. 42.2% of those surveyed report that they are considering leaving the field entirely over the treatment they have received at Kaiser. Over 60% report they are considering leaving Kaiser Permanente as a company, and nearly 60% are considering leaving their department. our additional professional units making up workers as diverse as techs, physician assistants, dental staff, and lab pros, responded with similar results as well. In all units, between 30-40% said they were considering leaving the medical field ntirely because of Kaiser’s behavior. These same workers were asked if they would be willing to strike and 93% said that if the strike vote was taken now, they would vote to strike.
Right now Kaiser and other healthcare providers are critically understaffed, both in Portland and across the country. The primary issue reported by Kaiser health professionals is a lack of safe staffing, which our members report leads to long wait times for patients and can affect patient care. Four OFNHP-Kaiser contracts comprised of 3400 health professionals expire on September 30th, at which time any of the units could vote to strike.
Our members will be rallying at 6:00pm on September 28th at the Kaiser Permanente Building (500 NE Multnomah St, Portland) with the support of community and political leaders. We are unified in our demand for Kaiser to do the right thing, settle a fair contract, and fix the staffing crisis.