Kaiser claims strike is blocking access & delaying patient care - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Kaiser claims strike is blocking access & delaying patient care

Linda Pu'u Linda Pu'u
Yvonne Caday Yvonne Caday
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kaiser Permanente officials say they've received complaints that striking workers on the picket line are blocking sick patients who are trying to get into the hospital.

Kaiser officials say accusations that Local 5 union workers are purposely delaying patients from getting the care they need has serious consequences.

"There was an incident today that a gentleman was bringing his elderly mother in who was having a seizure in the car. He was in his privately owned vehicle coming in to receive emergency care and it took him about 10 minutes because they were impeding the emergency entrance way," said Linda Pu'u, the Chief Nurse Executive.

Union workers deny they're blocking access on purpose.

"There's just a small delay -- just like a traffic light, same thing like a traffic light. Just bear with us, we're trying to fight for our contract here. We want to survive too -- we want to thrive just like what Kaiser says they're trying to do with our community," said Yvonne Caday, a Kaiser worker who is on strike.

As tensions on the picket line escalate, tempers are beginning to flare as well.

"Scabs go home! Scabs go home!" some strikers chanted at a van full of Kaiser employees as they pulled into the hospital Tuesday.

Hawaii News Now's cameras caught one heated exchange between a driver and a picketer, as the man behind the wheel attempted to weave his way through the picket line.

"You're violating the law, there's cops right here," the union worker shouted.

After working without a contract for more than two years, hundreds of Kaiser employees walked off the job and onto the picket lines Monday. They oppose Kaiser's latest offer of a 4% pay raise over 3 years and a plan to eliminate guaranteed pensions for new employees, which Kaiser officials say is needed to control costs and help keep health care affordable for its members.

Ten Kaiser clinics have closed on O'ahu, Maui and Hawai'i Island. The 6-day strike is scheduled to end at midnight on Saturday.

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