San Francisco
San Francisco
Indybay Regions North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area North Coast Central Valley North Bay East Bay South Bay San Francisco Peninsula Santa Cruz IMC - Independent Media Center for the Monterey Bay Area California United States International Americas Haiti Iraq Palestine Afghanistan
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay Feature

"We're On Verge Of What Could Be Biggest Healthcare Strike In American History" IUOE39

by Labor Video Project
IUOE Local 39 San Francisco Kaiser hospital stationary engineers and biomed techs and other workers talked about the battle and union busting at Kaiser and the coming mass strike of Kaiser around the country.
On Day 49 at the Northern California Kaiser strike, striking IUOE Local 39 workers and supporters rallied at the San Francisco Kaiser hospital on November 5, 2021. Seven hundred stationary engineers and biomed techs have been on strike throughout Northern California.

Workers talked about the union busting attack with a company that is making billions more as a result of the pandemic. Local 39 San Francisco Kaiser hospital Biomed lead Pablo Ramirez talked about the issues and attacks on conditions of Kaiser engineers
and also said that "we're on verge of what could be the biggest healthcare strike in American history".

Kaiser is spending millions on bringing scabs in from throughout the country to break the strike and they are not familiar with the equipment and certified to work in California hospitals yet the City
and State of California are not enforcing the laws to protect the health and safety of the patients.

National Union of Healthcare Workers NUHW assistant political director for organizing John Avalos talked about their issues and fight for mental health coverage that Kaiser is supposed to provide but does not.

He also said that the insurance and hospital industry control the Newsom's state agencies in charge of oversight of the hospital and insurance industry and are not enforcing even the laws that are on the books to protect the public and workers.

They will be joining with their own strike on November 15 for five days. Kaiser has also been fined millions for refusing to provide prompt attention for patients with mental health problems and some have even committed suicide because of the failure to get treatment.

Other workers who are members of Kaiser are also angry that Kaiser executives are trying to weaken and
destroy the union movement.

Additional media:
IUOE 39 Kaiser Strike Workers Solidarity As 700 Continue Picketing

700 IUOE Local 39 Engineers Strike N. Cal Kaiser For Prevailing Wages & Conditions

STILL ON THE LINE! Macy's IUOE 39 Engineers Still Fighting Give-backs & Scabs After 63 Day Strike

IUOE39 Members Standing Up For Rights In Pandemic! SF Solidarity Rally For Striking Macy Workers

California IUOE Engineers On Strike At Macy's For Cost Of Living

IUOE Local 39 Engineers Fight Two Tier Healthcare At Macy's West In SF

IUOE Local 39 St Francis Hospital Stationary Engineers Strike Dignity Health For 40 Hr. Week

Production of Labor Video Project

A union of 24,000 Kaiser Permanente nurses and other workers who say they’re understaffed and facing a revamped pay system that would fuel more shortages announced their bargaining team will vote next month to authorize a strike if needed.

The Southern California nurses, pharmacists, rehab therapists, social workers, physician assistants, speech therapists, midwives and optometrists are represented by United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP) and are currently in labor negotiations with the healthcare provider.

Member votes will be taken Oct. 1-10. Union officials say their 24-year partnership with Kaiser is “on life support,” a situation that could impact patient care.

The current negotiations for a national contract between Kaiser and UNAC/UHCP, along with twenty other unions in the Alliance of Health Care Unions, cover more than 50,000 workers across hundreds of job classifications in nearly every geographic area Kaiser serves.

“We can no longer sit back and watch the employer dismantle the partnership that’s been in place since 1997,” union President Denise Duncan, a nurse and chief negotiator on the union’s bargaining team, said in a statement.

The union said Kaiser has proposed 1% raises to nurses and others with significantly reduced pay for new hires.

“They are proposing a two-tiered wage scale, which means new nurses coming in won’t make nearly as much,” said Belinda Redding, a registered nurse at Kaiser’s Woodland Hills facility. “Can you imagine doing the same work as someone else in your department but making significantly less money?”

Redding said that would reduce morale and exacerbate Kaiser’s already chronic staffing shortages. New nurses wouldn’t hang around long, she said, and others would be dissuaded from applying for nursing jobs with Kaiser because of the reduced pay.

Kaiser nurses currently average $40 an hour and up, she said.

In a statement issued Monday, Kaiser said the union has mischaracterized the issue.

“Our employees represented by Alliance unions earn around 26% above the average market wage, and in some places it’s 38% above market levels,” the healthcare company said. “On Aug. 25, we offered a proposal that includes wage increases for all current employees and no changes to the current retirement plan. It also guarantees no wage cuts for current employees.”

Kaiser said it’s proposing a “market-based compensation structure” for workers hired in 2023 and beyond that will allow them to be paid above market wages on average. That will allow Kaiser to continue attracting and retaining top talent, the statement said.

Union officials say overworked nurses are already facing record levels of exhaustion, depression, PTSD and burnout.

Hospitals and nursing homes around the nation are bracing for increased staff shortages as state deadlines arrive for healthcare workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Ultimatums are taking effect this week in such states as California, New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut, prompting fears that some employees will quit or let themselves be fired or suspended rather than get the vaccine.

Kaiser said it has provided nearly $600 million in employee assistance to ensure that frontline employees have had access to alternate housing, special childcare grants and additional paid leave for COVID-19 illness and exposure.

Thousands of California hospital workers strike over 'critical staffing shortages' at nearly a third of hospitals in the state

Connor Perrett
Sat, October 16, 2021, 10:54 AM
Empty rooms in a California hospital ICU.
In this Thursday, April 9, 2020, file photo, the Intensive Care unit at the St. Vincent Medical Center building in Los Angeles is viewed. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes
Thousands of healthcare workers in California have gone on strike or plan to strike, CalMatters reported.
They're striking over burnout and continued staffing shortages fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.
About a third of California hospitals reported "critical staffing shortages" to the federal government last week.
Thousands of healthcare workers in California have gone on strike or plan to strike over continued "critical staffing shortages" at nearly a third of the hospitals in the state.
According to a report from CalMatters, workers at more than two dozen hospitals in California went on strike at some point over the past four months. These workers included engineers, respiratory therapists, nurses, midwives, physical therapists, technicians, janitorial staff, according to the report.
Around a third of hospitals in the state this week reported "critical staffing shortages" to the US Department of Health and Human Services, according to the report. The shortages come amid increased patient demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare workers' early retirement over the past year, and other stresses put on the system by the pandemic, CalMatters reported.
Unions that represent healthcare workers told the outlet that the shortages existed before the COVID-19 outbreak nearly two years ago, but said the pressure of the pandemic has pushed the staffing issues to new levels. In addition to concerns over staffing, strikes have also been fueled by disagreements regarding pay, according to the report.
The unions say traveling healthcare staff brought into the state to make up for the shortages get paid more than the full-time staff at the understaffed hospitals.
Members of the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals recently voted to approve a strike against Kaiser Permanente, CalMatters reported. If negotiations continue to stall between Kaiser Permanente and UNAC/UHCP, 24,000 workers at facilities in over a dozen California cities would strike, according to the report.
The union wants more efforts made to retain staff and address burnout among staff, according to the report. The union says 72% of its members experienced anxiety and burnout and around 45% reported insomnia and depression. About three quarters said hospital staffing was their primary concern, CalMatters reported.
Kaiser has urged employees to avoid a walk out.
"We ask that our employees reject a call to walk away from the patients who need them," Kaiser spokesperson Marc Brown told the Washington Post. "Our priority is to continue to provide our members with high-quality, safe care. In the event of any kind of work stoppage, our facilities will be staffed by our physicians along with trained and experienced managers and contingency staff."
The problems fueling the tensions in California aren't unique to the state. The Wyoming News Exchange reported Saturday that 12 hospitals in the state this week reported a critical staffing shortage to the federal government. Four hospitals in the state resorted to crisis standards of care due to shortages, according to the report.
As Insider previously reported, burnout, poor working conditions, and job dissatisfaction have enabled the ongoing nationwide shortage of healthcare workers. A recent study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing found that hospitals in New York City were understaffed as early as December 2019, months before the city became the US epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The stress of working in a COVID ICU, and all the death that I've had to see, altogether, it has really set me back; I'm often very anxious, and angry," Sarah Chan, a registered nurse at St. Joseph's Hospital in New York, told Insider's Allana Akhtar in September. "So much death weighs heavy on me."

State fines Kaiser $499K for COVID worker safety violations
FEBRUARY 15, 2021
Patients and hospital staff wear masks outside of Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center on Feb. 12, 2021. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters
Patients and hospital staff wear masks outside of Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center on Feb. 12, 2021. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters
Kaiser Permanente has been cited more than any other California health system for violations of worker safety during the pandemic.
California officials gave a nod to Kaiser Permanente’s reputation for efficiency when they recently selected it to help speed vaccine rollout. But a review of worker safety citations shows Kaiser has had its own pandemic troubles, failing to adequately protect its employees early on.
Kaiser Permanente has on multiple occasions failed to provide hospital employees the gear or training needed to protect them from COVID-19, according to 12 citationsissued by California’s enforcer of workplace safety laws, Cal/OSHA.
The agency has issued more citations against Kaiser than any other health care employer in California, fining it almost $500,000. In addition, Santa Clara County has separately penalized the hospital for not immediately reporting an outbreak in December.
Kaiser is appealing all 12 of the state’s citations, as well as the county-issued fine.
“It’s misleading to interpret these citations to signal any ongoing serious infractions of current public health guidelines at Kaiser Permanente,” Marc Brown, a Kaiser spokesman, said in an emailed statement. “In fact, these citations stem mainly from allegations much earlier in the pandemic, as health care systems including ours grappled with national shortages and evolving public health guidance.”
Kaiser’s medical centers, he added, are a safe place to work and receive care.
CalMatters first reported an incoming wave of citations for Kaiser in October, following the first fine issued to its psychiatric hospital in Santa Clara.
The state imposed the largest penalty, $87,500, on Kaiser’s San Leandro Medical Center for not immediately reporting to Cal/OSHA when one employee was hospitalized in May and for not limiting the reuse of N95 respirators, among several other violations.
Cal/OSHA began citing Kaiser facilities in October, months after receiving complaints. The short-staffed agency has been inundated with COVID-related complaints. Between February and September of last year, it conducted on-site inspections for only 5% of almost 7,000 pandemic complaints.
Almost half of Cal/OSHA’s citations to hospitals are directed at Kaiser. But it’s difficult to know for sure why Kaiser has been disciplined the most, said Laura Stock, director of the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley. It could be its practices, but also its size, and its employees may be more willing to speak up about hazards, Stock said.
“If there is a citation it’s probably because someone filed an OSHA complaint,” Stock said. “Kaiser is a unionized workplace and there are workers who are educated on these issues and really on top of these things.”
One violation labeled as “serious” in Cal/OSHA’s citation to Oakland Medical Center, for example, found that the hospital did not provide employees from an oncology unit with N95 respirators when they entered an area with patients confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19. The hospital also failed to ensure each employee passed a “fit test” to ensure employees’ respirators fit properly, according to the citation.
Cal/OSHA also found that Kaiser’s Redwood City Medical Center did not inform and train employees that surgical masks do not protect against inhalation of infectious aerosols — N95 respirators are needed instead.
Kaiser’s San Jose Medical Center failed to notify employees “with significant exposures in a reasonable timeframe” and didn’t provide a medical evaluation to those exposed, according to the citation.
One violation labeled as “serious” by Cal/OSHA found that Oakland Medical Center did not provide employees from an oncology unit with N95 respirators when they entered an area with patients confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19.
For a later and separate incident, Santa Clara County fined the San Jose hospital $43,000 for not immediately reporting an outbreak in its emergency department on Christmas Day. That incident has been linked to an employee dressed in an air-powered inflatable tree costume, who was COVID positive but unaware of that. Kaiser is appealing that fine, too.
Federal health guidance about COVID-19 safety has evolved throughout the pandemic. Yet California already had strict workplace safety rules in place for hospitals and other health settings that should have protected employees from the very beginning, even when little was known about the virus, experts say.
In spring 2009, California adopted the Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) standard. Under development for several years, it was unanimously approved by the Cal/OSHA Standards Board soon after the first cases of the H1N1 virus were detected in the state. According to this ATD standard, any novel or unknown pathogen is to be handled as if it could be transmitted by aerosols until proven otherwise.
California is the only state in the country with this standard. And experts say this standard has helped Cal/OSHA hold health employers accountable during the pandemic.
Keep tabs on the latest California policy and politics news
The state’s aerosol standard requires employers to provide personal protective equipment that protects against aerosols, train employees about this type of transmission, and notify them of any possible exposure. This state standard went beyond early pandemic guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which didn’t formally acknowledge the airborne transmission of coronavirus until October. For months, the federal agency focused on droplet transmission.
Special protection is required to protect against viruses that can transmit via smaller aerosolized particles. For example, in Cal/OSHA’s citation to Kaiser San Francisco, the agency notes that the hospital did not require employees to use powered air-purifying respirators during “high hazard” procedures that generate aerosols, like intubations. According to the ATD standard, N95 masks are not enough protection for those types of procedures.
“We use what we have way beyond its usage.”
At the San Leandro location, employees who were given powered air-purifying respirators were handed defective units held together by tape, according to the citation. That same hospital also failed to investigate exposure incidents between May and August, the citation reads.
Throughout most of last year, nurses and other health workers organized rallies and protests demanding more protection from Kaiser and other hospitals. Amy Arlund, an intensive care nurse at Kaiser Fresno Medical Center and member of the California Nurses Association, said nurses aren’t as interested in fines as they are in enforcement and improvement.
She alleged that at her hospital, for example, when their battery-operated respirators break down, it’s hard to get replacements.
“A lot of nurses are carrying around their own rolls of duct tape to put these things back together when they’re falling apart,” Arlund told CalMatters in November. “We use what we have way beyond its usage.”
Employees at Kaiser Fresno have filed several complaints. Arlund said Cal/OSHA inspectors have visited her hospital, but as of Friday, no citations had been issued against Kaiser’s Fresno hospital.
CalMatters COVID-19 coverage, translation and distribution is supported by generous grants from the Blue Shield of California Foundation, the California Wellness Foundation and the California Health Care Foundation.
Related Categories: San Francisco | Labor & Workers
Striking IUOE Local 39 engineers and biomeds are angry that Kaiser is spending a fortune brining in scabs and trying to starve them out using the billions that they have been making.
§Other Unions Joined In Solidarity
by Labor Video Project
Other unions in San Francisco joined the striking stationary engineers and biomed engineers.
§SF Kaiser Hospital IUOE #39 Strike Tent
by Labor Video Project
Engineers said that Sutter and UCSF pay more than at Kaiser say IUOE Local 39 strikers.
§Frontline Workers Screwed By Kaiser Bosses
by Labor Video Project
Frontline workers are angry about Kaiser bosses who make millions of dollars and are attacking their conditions and benefits.
Add Your Comments
We are 100% volunteer and depend on your participation to sustain our efforts!


$ 140.00 donated
in the past month

Get Involved

If you'd like to help with maintaining or developing the website, contact us.


Publish your stories and upcoming events on Indybay.

IMC Network