The strikers embrace licensed vocational nurses, residence well being aides, and ultrasound technicians, in addition to technicians within the radiology, x-ray, surgical procedure, pharmacy, and emergency departments.
Docs usually are not taking part, and Kaiser says its hospitals, together with emergency rooms, will stay open throughout the sit-in. The corporate mentioned it introduced in 1000’s of short-term employees to fill gaps throughout the strike. However a strike could end in delays in acquiring appointments and rescheduling of non-urgent procedures.
Wednesday’s strike is the most recent for… health care The trade this yr continues to face burnout as a result of heavy workloads — issues which have been drastically exacerbated by the pandemic.
Unions representing Kaiser employees in August demanded a minimal wage of $25 an hour, in addition to raises of seven% every year for the primary two years and 6.25% every year for the subsequent two years.
They are saying staffing shortages increase the hospital system’s income however harm sufferers, and executives bargained in dangerous religion throughout negotiations.
“They don’t seem to be listening to the well being care employees on the entrance strains,” mentioned Miki Fletchall, a licensed vocational nurse who works at Kaiser Medical Workplace in Camarillo, California. “We’re placing due to our sufferers. We don’t wish to have to do that, however we’ll do it.”
Kaiser has proposed a minimal hourly wage of $21 to $23 subsequent yr relying on location.
Since 2022, the hospital system has employed 51,000 employees and plans so as to add a further 10,000 individuals by the tip of the month.
Kaiser Permanente reported internet earnings of $2.1 billion for the second quarter of this yr, on greater than $25 billion in working earnings. However the firm mentioned it’s nonetheless coping with price headwinds and challenges from inflation and labor shortages.
Kaiser CEO Michelle Gaskell Hames defended the corporate and mentioned its practices, compensation and retention are higher than its opponents, whilst the complete sector faces the identical challenges.
“Our focus, for the greenback we herald, is to keep up their funding in value-based care,” mentioned Gaskill Hames, president of Kaiser Basis Well being Plan and Hospitals of Southern California and Hawaii.
She added that Kaiser is dealing with a turnover charge of simply 7% in comparison with the trade commonplace of 21%, regardless of the results of the pandemic.
“I feel after the pandemic is over, well being care employees are fully exhausted,” she mentioned. “The shock felt by lots of the Covid sufferers and sufferers who died was very tough.”
The employees’ final contract was negotiated in 2019, earlier than the pandemic.
Hospitals typically have struggled lately with excessive labor prices, staffing shortages and excessive ranges of uncompensated care, in response to Rick Gundling, senior vp of the Healthcare Monetary Administration Affiliation, a nonprofit group that works with well being care finance executives.
Most of its income is mounted, Gundling famous, and comes from government-funded packages like Medicare and Medicaid. Which means income progress “can solely be achieved by way of elevated volumes, which is tough even beneath one of the best situations,” he mentioned.
Staff demanding larger wages, higher working situations and job safety, particularly for the reason that finish of the pandemic, have been more and more keen to stroll away from work as employers face a larger want for employees.
The California Legislature has despatched Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom a invoice that might enhance the minimal wage for employees within the state. 455,000 health care workers at $25 an hour over the subsequent decade. The governor has till October 14 to determine whether or not to signal or veto it.