Kaiser Permanente Announces Layoffs as it Battles Through Workers’ Strike
- Care company Kaiser Permanente is laying off 49 workers in HR
- The company is grappling with a huge healthcare workers’ strike
- Kaiser says those affected aren’t unionized workers, and the changes won’t impact patient care
Care consortium Kaiser Permanente has announced its intention to slash dozens of jobs in San Francisco and Southern California as the company faces what’s being called the biggest healthcare national strike in U.S. history.
The layoffs don’t affect unionized workers, but it’s not a good look as the battle for its employees to get fairer pay and working conditions intensifies. Here are the details on the Kaiser layoffs and what exactly has gone down with the healthcare strikes so far.
What’s the latest with the Kaiser layoffs?
In a regulatory filing, Kaiser confirmed that 49 employees will be laid off in WARN notices received on October 3. Most of the employees are based at an address in Hacienda Business Park in Pleasanton.
In a statement released to the San Francisco Standard, Kaiser said the move was due to a switch from using an internal HR team to an outside firm and that all affected workers had the chance to apply to other roles internally. The layoffs are expected to take place in November.
Kaiser was also keen to stress that the layoffs wouldn’t impact any patient services and “no union-represented employees were affected by this change.”
What’s happening with the healthcare strike?
Kaiser has over 300,000 employees, with 75,000 of them recently walking out in arguably the biggest healthcare strike in the nation’s history. The walkout lasted from Wednesday to Saturday, with over 60,000 California-based Kaiser employees participating. The result was closed clinics and delayed healthcare appointments.
Kaiser and eight labor groups under the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions banner said the company’s $24 billion in profits over the last five years and $1 million executive salaries were more than enough to justify the strikes. After six months of negotiations, Kaiser employees still await higher starting salaries and raises, better benefits and workforce development.
Kaiser has refuted the unions’ claims, saying it’s already offered wage increases and a new minimum hourly pay rate of $21, which is less than the unions’ demands for $26. Kaiser also claims it’s already invested in training staff and made pay rises throughout the years.
This week, the unions confirmed they’re giving Kaiser three more weeks to reach a new contract deal with them before they initiate a second, week-long walkout. The second strike would coincide with another 3,000 Kaiser healthcare workers in Seattle’s contracts expiring.
The bottom line
It’s always unfortunate when layoffs happen, and it’s even more unfortunate that Kaiser’s decision coincides with one of the biggest healthcare strikes in decades.
We don’t envy Kaiser’s board right now, though with worker shortages in the sector, the healthcare company can’t afford to be complacent in its efforts to reach a contract deal everyone is happy with.