The toll of the coronavirus pandemic has spurred nurses, front-line technicians and other hospital employees to walk out or authorize strikes.
A strike authorization does not automatically trigger a strike. Unions still have to provide hospitals with a 10-day notice before walking out.Kaiser Permanente proposed 1% annual pay raises over the next three years and a two-tier wage system, but unions want 4% annual pay raises and no two-tier system.
Zoom out: The Kaiser Permanente fight is just the latest of several labor disputes.
More than 700 nurses at Saint Vincent Hospital, a Tenet Healthcare facility in Massachusetts, have been on strike for seven months.Roughly 2,000 people who work at Mercy Hospital in New York, part of Catholic Health System, have been on strike since the start of October.Home care workers in Connecticut rallied for higher pay last month.Other recent health care strikes have taken place in Alabama, Montana and Oregon, among other places.
What they’re saying: “We’re drowning. There’s just not enough staff,” Jennifer Stone, a unionized ER technician at Sutter Delta Medical Center in California, said in a press release earlier this month. “We’re talking down angry COVID patients, then we’re rushing to a code … We can’t do it all anymore.”
Hospitals are down 117,000 people, and nursing homes are down 247,000.
The bottom line: Low staffing levels are often the driving force behind health care work stoppages, and the pandemic has made that situation even worse in many areas.