Joint statement from AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, AFSCME President Lee Saunders, AFT President Randi Weingarten, IBT General President James P. Hoffa, IUOE General President James. T. Callahan, UFCW International President Marc Perrone, UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor and USW International President Thomas M. Conway.
When you attack one of us, you attack all of us. The entire labor movement is behind the Kaiser Permanente employees standing up to corporate greed at its worst. We will put all our efforts into supporting the nearly 32,000 health care workers who are ready to strike on Nov. 15, 2021, unless negotiations improve. An additional 8,000 workers could strike the week after. In all, a total of 52,000 nurses and professional, service and technical workers are represented by AFSCME, AFT, IBT, ILWU, IUOE, UFCW, UNITE HERE and USW at hospitals and clinics in Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii, and are impacted by the negotiations.
These workers risked their lives in a desperate struggle to save patients in a global pandemic, lacking basic protective equipment, sleeping in their cars and hotels to protect their families, and suffering extreme physical and mental health challenges with which they are still coping. While the pandemic is no longer a crisis for many, these health care heroes are now struggling harder than ever, fighting not just COVID-19 and PTSD, but a new tsunami of resignations and retirements that have left them so short staffed that some days their units feel as besieged by patient needs as they were in the darkest days of the surges.
Kaiser Permanente is so financially strong that even during a pandemic, when other health care systems struggled to make ends meet, it was able to return COVID-19 relief money. Even with its financial strength and continued growth, it is demanding health care workers accept a subpar 2% wage increase and a two-tier wage structure that would lower wages for incoming workers by 15% on average. It is also doing nothing to address the huge pay disparities between its Inland Empire workforce and other area workers doing the same jobs. Workers are fed up and vow to stand together for as long as it takes to win dignity, respect, and fair wages and benefits on the job.