Four thousand psychologists, therapists and other medical professionals are planning to strike Kaiser Permanente facilities across California, including 226 employees at the Fontana Medical Center, during the week of Nov. 11-15, according to a union press release.
The strike will potentially shut down mental health services at more than 100 Kaiser clinics and medical facilities from San Diego to Sacramento, the union said.
Caregivers represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers will begin forming picket lines at 6 a.m. Monday morning, Nov. 11. On that day, strikers will be picketing the Fontana location at 9961 Sierra Avenue as well as locations in Bakersfield, Anaheim, San Diego, Downey, Panorama City, Fresno, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Santa Clara.
Pickets will run from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., with lunchtime rallies. In addition to NUHW, the California Nurses Association and Stationary Engineers, Local 39 have provided strike notices, which allows their roughly 20,000 members at Kaiser medical facilities to strike in sympathy without fear of reprisal by Kaiser.
“We’re fighting to make Kaiser provide quality mental health care,” Kaiser Psychologist Matt Hannon said. “Our patients can’t get timely appointments, and our schedules are booked solid.”
Kaiser clinicians, who have been working without a contract for more than a year, also held a five-day statewide strike last December.
----- JOHN NELSON, vice president of communications for Kaiser Permanente, issued this statement regarding the strike:
"It is disappointing that once again, the leadership of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) is calling on our mental health therapists to walk away from their patients. This planned strike does not make sense given that we’re offering generous wages and benefits and taking important steps to help address the nation’s crisis in mental health care -- hiring hundreds of new therapists, building new treatment facilities and investing millions to help people enter the mental health care profession."
Nelson said that on Oct. 30, California’s Office of the Patient Advocate (OPA) awarded Kaiser Permanente’s health plans in California the highest possible rating for mental health care.
"This marks the 12th consecutive year that we have stood apart as the only plans to receive OPA’s top ratings, and serves as a reflection of the exceptional work being done by our mental health providers and our substantial investments in this area," Nelson said.