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Amid failed contract negotiations, Kaiser workers begin vote on possible strike

(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 9:09 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 14, 2021 at 11:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After months of failed contract negotiations, nearly 2,000 workers at Kaiser Permanente began voting Thursday on whether to authorize a strike.

The workers, who are members of the UNITE HERE Local 5 union, said the pandemic has pushed them to a point of exhaustion.

The union said they are frustrated and disappointed with Kaiser’s proposal of a two-tier wage system that offers 1% wage increases to current employees and much lower pay for new hires.

A contract between Kaiser and the union expired on Sept. 30.

The union said the health care provider is also ignoring staffing concerns.

In a statement, Kaiser Senior Vice President of human resources Arlene Peasnall said the company is committed to working together and believes their differences can be worked out at the bargaining table.

Kaiser said progress is being made and hopes to resolve the matter quickly.

Peasnall encouraged employees to not “walk away” from patients who need them.

Kaiser said a strike authorization does not automatically trigger a strike. Unions still would be required to provide a 10-day notification before any work stoppage could commence.

The vote is scheduled to wrap up next Wednesday.

This story will be updated.

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