2021 UNAC/UHCP Strike Basics
UNAC/UHCP stands for United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals
UNAC/UHCP members bargaining this year with the Kaiser Permanente health system:
- Nearly 21,000 Kaiser Permanente employees (registered nurses, pharmacists, midwives, physical therapists, and other health care professionals) working in Southern California, from Bakersfield to San Diego. (Strike authorized on October 11; Strike begins on November 15)
- Nearly 1,400 Kaiser Permanente employees (occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists) working in Northern California, from Sacramento to Fresno. (Strike authorized on October 28; Strike begins on November 22)
- Nearly 170 Kaiser Permanente employees (occupational therapists, physical therapists, and pharmacists) working in Hawaii, on Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. (Strike authorized on October 28; Strike begins on November 22)
To protect patient care, health care unions such as UNAC/UHCP must give a 10-day notice in advance of a strike so that the employer can be prepared for our walkout.
QUICK LIST OF STRIKE RESOURCES
Find a Southern California picket location: https://www.unacuhcp.org/kaiser-permanente-picket-locations
Learn more about our concerns about staffing shortages, eroding care standards, and health care and wage equity: https://www.investinpatientcare.com/strike.
Read about how Kaiser Permanente has the fiscal health and resources to invest in patient care and the people who provide it: https://www.investinpatientcare.com/kpfinances
Read about why two-tier wage structures are divisive and unproductive: https://unacuhcp.org/2-tier
Read about burnout and turnover in the True Cost of Being A Hero: Mental Health Strains in Nursing and Health Care, a UNAC/UHCP special report: https://unacuhcp.org/press_release/press-release-unac-uhcp-report-the-true-cost-of-being-a-hero
Strike in Southern California:
- Begins Monday, November 15, 7:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time
- More than 300 facilities are affected, but pickets will be at larger KP hospitals:
- Hospitals and medical centers in Anaheim, Baldwin Park, Downey, Fontana, Harbor City, Irvine, Los Angeles, Ontario-Vineyard, Panorama City, Riverside, San Diego, West Los Angeles, and Woodland Hills
- Hundreds of clinics, quick-care clinics in Target stores, and medical office buildings from Bakersfield down to San Diego and from Los Angeles out to the Inland Empire
- Picket locations are available here
Strike in Northern California
- Begins Monday, November 22, 7:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time
- Nearly two-dozen facilities are affected, but pickets will occur at larger area medical centers TBA.
Strike in Hawaii
- Begins Monday, November 22, 7:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time
- Several facilities are affected, but picket locations TBA.
Other Alliance of Health Care Unions going on strike against Kaiser:
7,400 members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 7600 in southern California (November 15)
3,400 members of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Healthcare Professionals (OFNHP), AFT, in the Portland area (November 15)
2,500 members of six United Food and Commercial Workers local unions in Southern California: Locals 135 (San Diego), 324 (Los Angeles and Orange counties), 770 (Los Angeles, Ventura, and Kern counties), 1167 (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties), 1428 (Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties) and 1442 (Los Angeles County) (November 18)
1,900 members of UNITE HERE Local 5 in Hawaii (November 22)
Why UNAC/UHCP registered nurses and health care professionals are exercising our right to go on strike
UNAC/UHCP members have made award-winning contributions to Kaiser’s high-quality care at the bedside, in the clinic, the pharmacy, in the classroom, and in patient care management.
- Kaiser Permanente is one of the nation’s largest health care providers, but it wants to slash wages for the next generation of health care workers and depress the lifetime earnings of everyone who worked through COVID—putting high-quality patient care at risk.
- Kaiser’s proposed two-tier wage and benefits structure would deny new employees the same wages and benefits as longstanding employees, fostering division and increasing departures.
- Kaiser is offering far less than the 4 percent across-the-board annual raises that we propose to keep qualified workers from leaving for better-paying hospitals.
- Kaiser violated our longstanding partnership agreement with a flawed wage study designed to attack union wages.
- Kaiser paid an outside firm to conduct a market survey that compared Kaiser Permanente, California’s largest hospital system, to small rural hospitals, rehab nursing homes, non-union employers, and an eight-bed hospital in an affluent private community, while failing to include comparable large health care systems such as Sharp Healthcare and the University of California. This wage study was skewed to say that our wages are higher than they should be.
- Kaiser is using this analysis to unilaterally define — without labor input—what health care workers are worth. This move is a violation of our National Agreement and our longstanding partnership, where we have gathered data and made decisions jointly for 24 years, including a specific agreement reached in 2018 to conduct a joint market survey and meet to discuss measures to address the employer’s concerns about affordability.
- Instead, Kaiser seeks to make unilateral decisions that drive up costs, erode patient care and service, and exact a heavy toll on workers.
Kaiser Permanente has the resources to recruit and retain registered nurses and health care professionals
- In the past three years, Kaiser Permanente grew by 591,000 new health plan members. Kaiser Permanente has more health plan members in California than its competitors: 9.2 million.
- Kaiser Permanente has solid financial ratings because of the strength and diversity of its health plan membership.
- KP reported to Fitch Ratings that 65% of the nation’s Fortune 100 companies contract with Kaiser for their employees’ health care.
- No single employee or employer represents more than 5% of Kaiser Permanente’s total health plan membership.
- Fortune 100 companies are not going to start-ups for the level of care their employees need and expect.
Cash on Hand
- Kaiser maintains at least $44.5 billion in reserves.
- Kaiser could run the current operation for nearly 200 days on this extra cash, well beyond what is typical for an organization of its size.
- Kaiser would be #34 on the Fortune 500 list for all companies (ahead of Disney, Nike, Lockheed Martin) if it were a for-profit company
- In the first year of the pandemic (2020), Kaiser made $2.2 billion in sheer profit—even after returning more than $500 million in federal relief funds for hospitals.
- $2.2 billion in profit is equivalent to:
- $69.76 per second
- $4,185.60 per minute
- $251,136 per hour
- $6 million per day
A national wealth gap
- The wealth of billionaires has soared 70% in the pandemic.
—Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality
- Nurses bore the brunt of the pandemic, and nearly 9 in 10 of them are women. At least 30% are seriously considering leaving the profession. — Press Ganey survey of 100,000 health care employees
UNAC/UHCP registered nurses and health care professionals are at the breaking point with burnout and fatigue
- Health care workers across the country are in the 20th month of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.
- UNAC/UHCP found that 72% of our members surveyed—registered nurses, therapists, pharmacists, midwives, and other health care professionals—struggle with anxiety and burnout.
- 74% pointed to unsafe staffing as a source of their mental health struggles.
- 42% reported depression; 45% reported trouble sleeping.
- The True Cost of Being A Hero: Mental Health Strains in Nursing and Health Care—a UNAC/UHCP survey and research report
- Resignations from health care and social services jobs reached unprecedented levels this summer.
- Burnout and job dissatisfaction are resulting in nurses taking early retirements, moving to higher-paid traveling nursing positions, switching careers, or exiting the workforce entirely.
- Fitch Wire report
Chronic understaffing and the threat of worse shortages
- Even before the pandemic, we were physically and mentally fried: In 2016, burnout among critical care nurses was shown to be as high as 70%.
- A 2018 report showed that 53% of pharmacists experienced at least 1 of 3 main indicators of burnout.
- California will need nearly 200,000 new nurse professionals in 2030 but will be nearly 44,500 short. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
High-cost of turnover
- Since the beginning of the pandemic, annual clinical staff turnover rates nationally have increased from 18% to 30%
- Burnout costs the average hospital between $4.4 million and $6.9 million each year in turnover, recruiting, and training costs:
- Clinical nurse: $60,000 to $98,000
- Pharmacist: up to $90,000
- In a hospital with 3,000 employees, and a 20% turnover rate of employees with an average salary of $65,000, the TOTAL COST OF TURNOVER is $39 million.
Two-tier schemes decrease savings and foster division
- Kaiser Permanente corporate executives are aiming for concessionary two-tier wage structures.
- Kaiser Permanente corporate executives want new hires to start at rates from 26% to 39% less than current workers doing the same job.
- Kaiser’s proposal also reduces performance bonuses and pensions for all employees hired after 2023.
- Two-tier wage systems spread in the Great Recession of the 1990s when unemployment was high, but moving new hires to a lower pay scale and scaled back benefits was not the magic bullet for ailing companies.
- Now that companies are profitable and workers are in high demand, two-tier systems are even more unnecessary and counter-productive.
- Employees subjected to a two-tier system experience a decrease in job satisfaction and morale in both tiers.
About the Alliance of Health Care Unions
The Alliance of Health Care Unions is a federation of 21 local unions representing 52,000 health care workers at Kaiser Permanente across the nation.
- Alliance unions have been in a Labor Management Partnership with Kaiser Permanente since 1997, the largest, longest partnership of its kind in the United States.
- The partnership brought mutual success for 24 years: industry-leading pay and benefits, employment security, and a voice in Kaiser Permanente care delivery for Alliance workers AND years of health quality accolades, growing health plan membership, and tens of billions of dollars in reserves for Kaiser Permanente.
- Last year, at the height of the pandemic, Kaiser Permanente executives violated our National Agreement with a unilaterally planned and funded wage study. This flawed and inaccurate study is only meant to justify KP demands for a two-tier wage scale.
- Around 40,000 Alliance union nurses and health care workers are eligible to strike because their contracts have expired. The rest of the alliance members are under contracts, which don’t expire until next year.
- On November 4, 2021, three of the Alliance’s largest unions—UNAC/UHCP, USW (United Steelworkers) Local 7600, and OFNHP (Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals)—delivered the legally required 10-days’ notice of a walkout. The strike will begin on Monday, November 15, and will be an open-ended strike (with no set duration or end date).