Kaiser Mental Health Workers Begin Weeklong Strike Today
On Monday, thousands of Kaiser Permanente mental health clinicians are beginning a weeklong strike over alleged inadequate mental health care and stalled contract negotiations with the health system, KQED's "State of Health" reports (Dembosky, "State of Health," KQED," 1/12).
The National Union of Healthcare Workers alleges that Kaiser has violated state requirements by failing to adequately staff its behavioral health division with enough mental health workers to treat an increasing number of patients. According to the San Bernardino Sun/Los Angeles Daily News, state regulations require that non-urgent patients must be seen within 10 business days, but union officials say Kaiser is not meeting that standard (Steinberg, San Bernardino Sun/Los Angeles Daily News, 1/10).
After contract negotiations failed, NUHW President Sal Rosselli said, "Kaiser reiterated their proposal for a contract that did not anywhere near address the staffing needs" (Kaul, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/11).
Meanwhile, John Nelson -- Kaiser's vice president of government relations -- said the health system has actually met the growing demand for mental health care services, noting that Kaiser has hired 25% more mental health workers since 2011 ("State of Health," KQED," 1/12).
Details of Strike
During the weeklong strike, about 2,600 mental health clinicians will protest on 65 picket lines at more than 35 Kaiser locations across the state (San Bernardino Sun/Los Angeles Daily News, 1/10).
According to Nelson, Kaiser has enough non-union workers to handle urgent cases during the strike. However, the health system will cancel some non-urgent appointments ("State of Health," KQED," 1/12).
Nelson said that Kaiser has been contacting patients to determine which appointments can be rescheduled to a later time (Digitale, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 1/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.