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Thousands Of Health Care Workers Strike As Hospitals Face Staffing Shortages

  Around 75,000 Kaiser Permanente health care workers went on strike this week hoping to get better pay and benefits in what has been descri...

 Around 75,000 Kaiser Permanente health care workers went on strike this week hoping to get better pay and benefits in what has been described as the largest health care strike in U.S. history.

Unions representing the workers are hoping to pressure executives at Kaiser to invest in attracting more workers as hospitals have struggled to maintain sufficient staffing levels. The strike has impacted hospitals and medical facilities in California, Colorado, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C.

Thousands of vocational nurses, emergency department technicians, radiology technicians, X-ray technicians, respiratory therapists, medical assistants, pharmacists, and others began the strike on Wednesday. The strike is expected to continue until Friday. 

“Frontline healthcare workers are awaiting a meaningful response from Kaiser executives regarding some of our key priorities including safe staffing, outsourcing protections for incumbent healthcare workers, and fair wages to reduce turnover,” Caroline Lucas, executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, said in an email statement on Wednesday. 

Lucas told CNBC that many health care workers were burning out and leaving the industry. 

“We have folks getting injured on the job because they’re trying to do too much and see too many people and work too quickly. It’s not a sustainable situation,” she said. 

Kaiser spokeswoman Hilary Costa said Wednesday evening that the workers union and company executives had reached some points of agreement. According to Costa, Kaiser had agreed to wage improvements, better medical and health plans, and education assistance programs. 

“We remain committed to reaching a new agreement that continues to provide our employees with market-leading wages, excellent benefits, generous retirement income plans, and valuable professional development opportunities,” Costa said. 


Kaiser, the largest non-profit health care organization in America, has a total of 305,000 employees, meaning that about 25% of its workforce has been on strike. 

“Kaiser has not been bargaining with us in good faith and so it’s pushing us to come out here and strike,” radiologic technologist Jacquelyn Duley told the Associated Press. “We want to be inside just taking care of our patients.”

The health care strike comes amid a string of other labor strikes, including from the United Auto Workers and Hollywood Screen Actors Guild. 

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