Thousands of labor union members are planning a Jan. 31 walkout at Kaiser Permanente hospitals to protest a standstill in contract negotiations, the Sacramento Bee reports.
About 4,000 members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers are leading the strike.
To show solidarity, about 17,000 members of the California Nurses Association and 650 members of the Stationary Engineers Local 39 also plan to strike on Jan 31.
NUHW and Kaiser have been in contract negotiations over health care coverage, pension benefits and staffing issues for more than one year. Since negotiations began in 2010, NUHW has conducted walkouts three times, according to union representatives.
CNA nurses in September picketed at more than 30 hospitals to support other union members protesting Kaiser and Sutter Health's proposed benefits cuts (Smith, Sacramento Bee, 1/21).
Details of the Walkout
The strike aims to bolster support for labor negotiations. Union officials said the strike also aims to bring attention to unnecessary cuts.
In a release, CNA said Kaiser is "insisting on major reductions to workers' health care coverage and retirement benefits and has refused to bargain over staffing issues for direct, frontline health care workers," despite record high profits and increased compensation for executives.
Kaiser maintains that it has been negotiating in good faith with NUHW and will continue to do so. More than 31 tentative agreements have been reached so far at five bargaining units statewide (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 1/20).
Gay Westfall -- a Kaiser senior vice president -- said, "While we recognize NUHW's legal right to conduct a strike, we believe the bargaining table is the best place to resolve differences."
He added that CNA's participation in the strike violates CNA's contract.
Officials said all Kaiser facilities will continue to operate during the strike (Sacramento Bee, 1/21).