Kaiser Permanente workers in Colorado, represented by Service Employees International Union (SEIU), will begin voting Monday on whether to go on strike starting in October.
The 3,000 workers would join 85,000 Kaiser workers nationwide in a work stoppage.
“We’re tired of being understaffed, under-resourced, and undervalued. This is not the same Kaiser that I started work for 2 years ago,” said Emily Barrera, a Medical Assistant in a news release “We’ve had enough of Kaiser’s greed and want to bring them back to their mission of putting frontline staff and patients first.”
For its part, Kaiser has stated, “We are all here for our patients – not to earn a profit or pay shareholders. Kaiser Permanente, like other health plans, maintains financial reserves to cover our obligations if something unexpected were to occur or if regular business was interrupted.”
SEIU counters that Kaiser is indeed a nonprofit, but it’s acting like a for-profit corporation, by paying large salaries to executives, outsourcing jobs, and reporting huge profits.
“No one wants to go on strike,” said Shayla Bartek, a Kaiser Pharmacy Tech, “but Kaiser’s actions have left us no choice. I’m voting yes to strike because our patients deserve better, our communities deserve the best care, and my coworkers and I are worth more.”
In July, Kaiser workers in Colorado staged “informational pickets,” as contract talks stalled nationally.
Kaiser covers the health care needs of 12.2 million members nationally, up from 12.1 million last year.