Portland, OR area Kaiser Permanente employees plan strikes for safe staffing

Outside Kaiser Permanente, August 7, 2019 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Next week, health care workers at three Kaiser Permanente facilities in the Portland area will participate to encourage hospital management to adopt safe staffing measures.

The SEIU Local 49 union says employees at Kaiser Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro, Kaiser Sunnyside in Clackamas and Kaiser Interstate in Portland are joining Kaiser employees across the country in the fight for better working conditions.

According to the trade union, the information campaign is planned less than three months before the employees’ contract is due to expire on 30 September.

“Kaiser Permanente management claims caregivers are overpaid while continuing to demand more from us without providing the staff we need and our patients deserve,” Don Arndt, a laboratory technology assistant at the hospital, said in a statement. “Those of us who put our lives on the line deserve good jobs so we can recruit and retain quality staff to provide good care to our patients.”

According to Arndt, the healthcare company has billions of dollars in surplus that can be allocated to the workforce.

SEIU Local 49 added that understaffing in hospitals can affect staff’s ability to serve patients and cause extended wait times or incorrect medical diagnoses.

A Kaiser spokesperson told KOIN 6 News the company is disappointed with the choice to participate, but they recognize it as a bargaining tactic for negotiations.

“Our priority is to reach an agreement that ensures we can continue to offer market-competitive wages and outstanding benefits while addressing the significant challenges facing Kaiser Permanente and all healthcare organizations today on the heels of the global pandemic and in today’s economy,” the company said.

Here’s when staff at each Portland medical facility plan to attend.

  • Kaiser Westside Medical Center: Monday, July 24 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Kaiser Interstate Medical Center: Wednesday, July 26 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m
  • Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center: Friday 28 July from 11.00 to 14.00 and 16.00 to 18.00

In addition, Kaiser Permanente informed the public that the strikes are not strikes and therefore will not disrupt patient care.

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