Kaiser Permanente and striking workers will resume contract talks Thursday, the Labor Department announced, following the largest health-care strike in US history.
(Bloomberg) — Kaiser Permanente and striking workers will resume contract talks Thursday, the Labor Department announced, following the largest health-care strike in US history.
Acting Labor Secretary Julie Su will be present at the Oct. 12 bargaining session “to assist the parties in advancing talks towards a fair contract for this critical workforce,” press secretary Veronica Yoo said in a statement Friday.
Over 75,000 Kaiser employees walked off the job this week in six states and Washington, DC. The stoppage interrupted routine medical services for nearly 13 million people but emergency services remained open.
According to the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, negotiations broke down Wednesday night over wages, protections against outsourcing and staffing levels at medical facilities.
The company said Thursday that its latest proposal includes a minimum wage increase to $25 an hour for California workers by 2026, and $23 for workers in other areas. The company said it also compromised on the union’s outsourcing concerns.
While this week’s strike was slated for three days, the unions have said they may launch a “longer, stronger” strike next month if the talks haven’t progressed. “Workers are burnt out, scared for their patients and fed up,” Service Employees International Union president Mary Kay Henry said in an emailed statement Friday.
Su also met with leaders of Kaiser Permanente and the union coalition earlier this week.
The strike is the latest in a series of worker actions that have swept the US this year, from Hollywood to Detroit.
“We are seeing an incredible moment of worker power, of workers exercising their power, of knowing their power, and of being able to make demands,” Su said in a Bloomberg News interview. “That has also meant more power for unions at the bargaining table.”
(Updates with union comment in sixth paragraph.)
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