Maui News

More Hawai‘i Health Care Professionals Issue Strike Notice to Kaiser Permanente

November 12, 2021, 12:58 PM HST
* Updated November 12, 1:02 PM
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Kaiser Permanente. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals members in Hawaiʻi delivered a 10-day notice yesterday of a strike against Kaiser Permanente.

The 165 physical and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and pharmacists, are demanding that “KP invest in patient care and the workers who provide it.”

Beginning on Monday, Nov. 22, following a mandatory 10-day notice period as required by law of all health care unions, the UNAC/UHCP advises that this strike will affect 13 KP facilities on Oʻahu, Maui, Kauaʻi, and Hawaiʻi Island.

The UNAC/UHCP reports that long-term issues include staffing and quality of care. The last time UNAC/UHCP struck against Kaiser Permanente was 1980, according to the union. In 1995, members voted to authorize a strike but settled the contract prior to striking.

Kaiser released a statement earlier this week saying: “The challenge we are trying to address in partnership with our unions is the increasingly unaffordable cost of health care. And the fact is, wages and benefits account for half of Kaiser Permanente’s operational costs.”

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Jake Elsbernd, a pharmacist based on Oʻahu who serves on the UNAC/UHCP union bargaining team challenges that notion saying: “Kaiser Permanente has billions in reserves, yet management keeps asking us to perform miracles out of magic. We shouldn’t have to fight so hard to ensure our facilities are properly staffed, and our patients receive the best care possible. We won’t take it anymore, and it’s time to strike.”

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This announcement comes as some 1,800 other employees represented by Unite Here have been without a contract since the end of September. Ninety-three percent of those who voted, approved authorization of a strike. Unite Here workers expressed concerns over both wages and staffing.

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