Local members of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), the largest Kaiser union, have been on strike for more than two months over wages. To show their support, more than 500 Kaiser Permanente workers joined the picket line outside the main Santa Rosa complex. SEIU plans to picket other Kaiser sites in Northern California.
Chris Keasling, a radiological technician and chief steward for SEIU-UHW who has a union that represents almost 1,500 local Kaiser workers, says, “They’ve been on strike for a total of 62 days now. So we’re here striking in sympathy with them and demanding Kaiser give them a fair contract with good raises. They were with us inside through the pandemic.”
Outside Kaiser Bicentennial Way the picket line participated in a one-day sympathy strike for members of Stationary Engineers Local 39, and were joined by some clinical lab scientists from the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU).
On Nov. 19, the California Nurses Association and National Union of Healthcare Workers protested in Santa Rosa showing that they stand by the side of the International Union of Operating Engineers, which claims that about 600 workers across the region are being paid less than those who have a similar position in the Bay Area.
As a response to the ongoing strike, Kaiser said, “As one of the largest health care union employers in the United States — with nearly 75% of our employees working under collective bargaining agreements — we fully understand solidarity among unions. But given the demands of Local 39, on top of the already market-leading compensation and highest retirement benefit of any represented employee in our organization, we believe that sympathy strikes are not appropriate in this case. We are asking our staff to choose to be there for our patients, and to come to work.”
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