Health Care Workers Latest To Strike As Thousands Join The Picket Line

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Will Kessler Contributor
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Health care workers in five states began striking Wednesday morning as negotiations with one of the country’s largest hospital systems continue to fail to produce a new contract.

The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions (CKPU) sent 75,000 workers on strike at a top insurer and health care system operator, Kaiser Permanente, amid complaints over low wages and staffing shortages, according to The Associated Press. Hospitals will remain open during the strike as doctors are not participating and thousands of temporary workers have been brought in to fill the gaps. (RELATED: Did Bidenomics Kill The American Dream? Homes And Cars Are Becoming Increasingly Unaffordable For The Middle Class)

“Given the urgency of Kaiser’s staffing crisis, frontline healthcare workers are ready to sit down with Kaiser executives whenever they’re ready to bargain in good faith — including up until the scheduled strike start time,” Caroline Lucas, executive director of the CKPU, said in a statement. “However, no agreement can be made until Kaiser executives stop bargaining in bad faith and committing unfair labor practices. Tens of thousands of frontline Kaiser healthcare workers across the country are ready for an unfair labor practice strike at 6 a.m. today. Patients and workers need dramatic action now to solve the Kaiser short staffing crisis and to ensure our patients’ safety.”

Those striking include vocational nurses, home health aides, ultrasound sonographers, and technicians for radiology, x-rays and more, according to the AP. Kaiser Permanente operates 39 hospitals across the country and provides insurance coverage to nearly 13 million people.

The union is asking for a $25 per hour minimum wage and 7% wage hikes for two years, then 6.25% wage hikes for the two years after that, according to the AP. Kaiser Permanente has offered a $21 to $23 per hour wage increase, depending on the location.

The union approved the strike to last for three days in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington and only one day in Virginia and Washington, D.C., according to the AP.

The United Auto Workers are also currently on strike as contract negotiations with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis continue to fail to reach an agreement. The union has only sent workers at 43 manufacturing plants on strike, sparing the rest in a strategy to apply incremental pressure on the companies while not exhausting their strike fund.

CKPU deferred the Daily Caller News Foundation to its previous statement. Kaiser Permanente did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

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