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Nearly 2,000 Kaiser health care workers set strike date for later this month

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 8:19 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 10, 2021 at 10:04 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The union for nearly 2,000 health care workers at Kaiser Permanente announced Tuesday night that they plan to go on strike later this month after negotiations failed.

UNITE HERE Local 5 said the strike will begin Nov. 22 and impact 20 Kaiser Permanente facilities in Hawaii.

Workers said they are striking over wages and concerns about staffing shortages, which they claim the company has failed to address.

The union said the decision comes as Kaiser is offering a 2% pay raise and a two-tier wage system that would cut up to a third of wages for future hires.

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

“Enough is enough!” said Stephanie Meredith, a ward clerk in labor and delivery at Kaiser’s Moanalua facility.

“No more health care heroes turning to health care zeroes. We’re going to fight for what we’re worth, for the future of our jobs and our community. We will be here for as long as it takes until Kaiser Permanente wakes up and gets it right.”

In October, the union said 93% of members that voted authorized the strike.

In a statement, Kaiser Permanente senior Vice President of Human Resources Arlene Peasnall said Hawaii’s union-represented employees earn about 26% above the average market wage and that Kaiser offered up to 4% yearly pay raises — 2% pay increases plus a 2% cash payout each year of a 4-year contract.

“The challenge we are trying to address in partnership with our unions is the increasingly unaffordable cost of healthcare. ... Wages and benefits account for half of Kaiser Permanente’s operational costs,” she said.

The company said if workers do strike, managers and contingency staff will fill in gaps.

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