Pamplin Media Group – Kaiser Permanente nurses and healthcare professionals authorize strike
With a vote of 96% of the Oregon Nurses and Health Professionals union members, its leaders can now call a strike at any time.
Some healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente voted to authorize a strike, officials said.
Represented by the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals union, nearly 3,400 nurses and health workers at Kaiser Permanente voted to authorize a strike. The turnout was 90%, with 96% of those participants voting yes.
Officials say this is an unprecedented clearance.
“Our members have turned out in record numbers to say they are ready to do what it takes to save patient care in Oregon,” said Kaiser Sunnyside RN and OFNHP President Jodi Barschow. “Kaiser’s proposals would be a disaster for the entire Oregon healthcare system and show a deep disrespect for frontline healthcare workers who risk their lives during COVID. ”
With this authorization, union leaders can now call a strike at any time. Once this strike is called, they will give Kaiser Permanente 10 days notice. After these ten days, they say the workers will quit work.
According to OFNHP, Kaiser refused a 30-day contract extension before that contract expired on September 30.
“The union urges Kaiser to change his confrontational behavior in contract negotiations in order to avoid a strike,” OFNHP said in a press release. “These workers have made it clear that once Kaiser comes up with a proposal that does not endanger the community, they will come to an agreement.”
KOIN 6 News contacted KP after clearance. They issued the following statement:
“At Kaiser Permanente, we are proud to be one of the most unionized healthcare organizations in the country. Our history and future are deeply tied to organized work and unions have always played an important role in our efforts to providing more people with access to high-quality care and making care more affordable.We remain committed to working with workers for our workforce, our members and the communities that rely on us.
We understand that the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (ONFHP) has completed a strike authorization vote. A strike authorization does not automatically trigger a strike. Unions are required to give us 10 days notice before the start of a work stoppage.
We firmly believe that bargaining disputes are best resolved at the bargaining table, and we have a 24-year history of union partnership to prove it.
We will continue to work with the BPHNO to reach an agreement that meets the interests of both parties.
Our priority is to continue to provide our members with high quality and safe care. In the event of a work stoppage of any kind, our facilities will be staffed with our doctors as well as trained and experienced managers and emergency personnel.
We are extremely grateful to our frontline healthcare workers, whose commitment to providing care and service throughout the pandemic has been nothing short of inspiring. ”
The potential strike comes as hospitals across the country scramble to recruit nurses and other health professionals. Portland hospitals are no exception – with Kaiser employees saying their main concern is the organization’s lack of secure staff.
According to Kaiser staff represented by OFNHP, the company’s current proposals “would accelerate the already devastating staff crisis,” which they said would put patients at risk.
“Strike is always our last resort, but Kaiser appears determined to push forward with proposals that would harm staff, patients and our entire public health system,” Barschow said recently. “Kaiser needs to do the right thing and put our patients before profits.”
According to OFNHP, 42.2% of nurses recently surveyed said they “are considering leaving the field entirely because of the treatment they received at Kaiser.” More than 60% are said to have said that they are considering leaving the company and almost 60% are considering leaving their specific department.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune.
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