A one-day strike at Kaiser

May 23, 2011

LOS ANGELES--On May 18, 2,500 health care workers at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California went on a 24-hour strike.

Kaiser nurses, social workers, psychologists, health educators, speech pathologists, audiologists and dieticians--members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW)--took action against Kaiser's unfair labor practices and greed.

Kaiser is attempting to cut workers' health care and retirement benefits while its CEO George Halvorson makes over $8 million annually and profits are up to $921 million in just the first three months of 2011.

As Jim Clifford, a therapist at Otay Mesa Kaiser Psychiatry in San Diego, noted in a statement on the NUHW website, "Nearly 2,000 of us were on the picket line at Kaiser Los Angeles Medical Center, sending an unmistakable message to management: We want a contract that protects patients and keeps our benefits intact. With nearly $1 billion in profits so far this year, Kaiser can easily afford to meet our demands."

The health care workers rallied at Kaiser's flagship medical center in Los Angeles. Hundreds picketed around the complex, calling for a fair contract and safe staffing levels for patients, and refusing to sacrifice their wages and benefits to keep Kaiser's profits high. A noon rally brought out community supporters.

"We don't need to sacrifice while they're making mega-profits," a labor-delivery nurse said in an interview. "We need more staff, not staff cuts; not cuts to our family health care and retirement plans."

A 20-year veteran social worker said, "Bottom line is patient care. But they're trying to cut out NUHW, they don't want to recognize us. We deserve a fair contract, and with all that money they have, they can give us one."

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