Friday, January 4, 2019

NUHW Hits Kaiser with Strike

The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) is taking on Kaiser Permanente again.

Not through ballot initiatives, which is Dave Regan’s preferred approach.

But through strikes… which SEIU-UHW hasn’t attempted against any healthcare company in years.

Last month, 4,000 NUHW members conducted a weeklong strike against dozens of Kaiser facilities across California. The strikers included Psychologists, Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, Psychiatric RNs, Medical Social Workers, Addiction Medicine Specialists, Dietitians, Health Educators, and others.

It was the largest strike by mental health therapists in the nation's history, according to NUHW.

What do the strikers want? They're demanding more staff.

Kaiser’s chronic understaffing of its mental health clinics forces patients with depression, bipolar disorder, and other conditions to wait two months or more for appointments.

Strikers were joined by former Congressman Patrick Kennedy -- the author of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and a national leader of mental health reform efforts -- who flew across the US to join them on the picket line.

RNs from the California Nurses Association and members of the Stationary Engineers Local 39 also joined picket lines across the state.

According to NUHW, the strike produced more than 1,000 press stories.

And one thousand patients reported their stories of Kaiser’s delayed care -- including suicides and other tragic outcomes -- to the union’s “Kaiser Don’t Deny” website, according to NUHW.

This isn’t the first time that NUHW has taken on Kaiser.

Several years ago, NUHW hit Kaiser with a series of statewide strikes and successfully got the state to fine the giant HMO $4 million for illegally delaying their patients’ mental health appointments. NUHW documented more than a dozen suicides connected to Kaiser's delayed care.

Check out this three-minute TV news story about the strike and Kaiser’s understaffed mental health clinics.