Thousands of Medical Workers Plan Walkout at Kaiser, Sutter Facilities
Thousands of health care workers statewide are planning a one-day strike on Thursday that could affect 34 hospitals in the Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente systems, the Vallejo Times-Herald reports (Kleffman, Vallejo Times-Herald, 9/17).
The walkout involves nearly 4,000 members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers and 5,000 members of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United.
About 17,000 nurses and 2,000 stationary engineers at Kaiser also could participate in a sympathy strike to support NUHW.
Reason for the Strike
NUHW leaders have said Kaiser is seeking significant cuts in health care and retirement benefits for workers while posting record profits. In 2010, the company reported net income of $2 billion on revenue of $44.2 billion.
Meanwhile, CNA leaders have said Sutter's contract demands could negatively affect patient care and nursing standards (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 9/16). Union spokesperson Charles Idelson said Sutter has proposed eliminating paid sick leave and reducing health insurance benefits (Vallejo Times-Herald, 9/17). Sutter Health posted a net income of $878 million on $9.1 billion in revenue in 2010.
The unions intend to use the strike to boost support for those involved in contract negotiations (Sacramento Business Journal, 9/16).
Kaiser, Sutter Response
Hospital officials have said their nurses are well-paid and the cutbacks are an attempt to reduce costs during economically challenging times (Vallejo Times-Herald, 9/17).
Kaiser and Sutter have said that the strike is unnecessary and that it inappropriately disrupts patient care (Sacramento Business Journal, 9/16).
The health systems plan to bring in replacement workers and remain open during the strike, and some facilities are planning to postpone elective surgeries.
Hiring the temporary replacements means that some striking workers will not be able to return to their jobs until Sept. 27 because the hospitals had to sign five-day contracts with the firms representing the temporary workers (Vallejo Times-Herald, 9/17).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.