LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Workers at the Kaiser Permanente health-care network protested in several Western cities Sept. 2, with arrests for civil disobedience in Los Angeles, Oakland, and Sacramento, California. More than 80,000 technicians, nurses, and medical personnel, members of the Service Employees International Union and other unions, have been working without a contract for 11 months, and have voted almost unanimously to authorize a possible strike in October. If they do walk out, it would be the biggest strike in the U.S. since 1997. Kaiser, once considered a model of worker-management cooperation, has changed its philosophy to focus on short-term profits, Los Angeles X-ray technician Eric Jines told the American Prospect. “They are making record profits,” he said. “People are having to do two to three jobs at one time, taking the focus off of patient care.” Alicia Cruz, a mental-health therapist in San Francisco, says the facility where she works is so understaffed that suicidal teenagers have to go into group therapy because there aren’t enough slots for individual sessions. The unions’ demands include better pay and benefits, good-faith bargaining, safer staffing levels, and building up the workforce to forestall future shortages of accredited personnel. Read more


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