Local 7600 health care workers authorize strike in Southern California

USW Local 7600 announced last week that their 7,400 health care members who work at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California granted the union to authorize a strike. The local, along with the Alliance of Health Care Unions (AHCU) have been bargaining with the health care giant since the spring.

“Health care workers are facing record levels of burnout after 20 months of the COVID pandemic,” said USW Local 7600 President Michael Barnett. “We urge Kaiser Permanente management to come to the table and bargain a fair contract that addresses chronic understaffing and safety issues rather than forcing workers into a labor dispute by insisting on dangerous cost-cutting measures.”

Among the top priorities for workers is ensuring a means to effectively fill open positions and maintain the safe-staffing levels necessary to protect patients and those who care for them. Instead, management is pushing proposals that will exacerbate already critical staffing shortages, including slashing wages for new hires and depressing wages for current workers who are trying to keep up with rising costs for food, housing and other essentials.

Local 7600 represents workers in a wide range of job classes from pharmacists to licensed vocational nurses, appointment clerks, housekeeping attendants, medical assistants, customer service representatives, pharmacy assistants, phlebotomists, pharmacy technicians, membership service representatives, dietary aides and more.

The group is part of a larger movement of workers across the nation using their collective power to improve their conditions. For example, 10,000 workers at John Deere staged the first walkout at the agricultural machinery giant in three decades, while IATSE production workers in Hollywood just secured a tentative agreement after voting to go on strike.

Click here to sign the AHCU petition calling on Kaiser Permanente to invest in patient care and those who provide it.

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