Workers Begin Largest Healthcare Strike in U.S. History

( – Kaiser Permanente failed to reach an agreement with its labor unions as of Wednesday, October 4th, triggering the largest strike of healthcare workers ever in the U.S. The unions combined represent over 75,000 employees across medical offices and hospitals in five states and the District of Columbia.

Union representatives are calling it the largest-ever strike in the medical industry. Hospitals and offices in Washington, California, Oregon, Colorado, and Virginia will be impacted, though Kaiser Permanente said all its facilities will remain open and operating as usual.

The strike was limited to 3-days only. The non-profit employs workers who provide care to 13 million patients in 39 hospitals and 600 offices in total. The strikers are a collection of nurses, technicians, physical therapists, medical assistants, as well as pharmacists, and others.

A major demand by union representatives is addressing chronic burnout and staffing shortages which have already led to many employees leaving the industry. Negotiations between executives and workers continue as they seek better hourly rates and benefits.

Caroline Lucas is an executive director for a group representing the unions, and she said that the staffing shortages have caused unsafe work conditions for both patients and employees.

Kaiser crafted a contingency plan to deal with the strike to maintain patient care for the duration.

The strike is the latest in a wave of actions by unions across the country to demand better pay and working conditions as the economic fallout from pandemic policies continues to compound a worsening economic situation.

United Auto Workers (UAW) is in negotiations with multiple automobile manufacturers over their treatment of the workforce. Thousands of workers walked off their jobs on September 15th, with more joining the strike the following week. A tentative agreement was reached early Monday, October 2nd for 4,000 workers working for Mack Trucks. Last Friday 7,000 more workers went on strike in Michigan and Illinois in order to add additional pressure to Big Three companies to negotiate more favorably.

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