SAN DIEGO, CA — The union representing mental health professionals at Kaiser Permanente facilities in San Diego and across the state plan to hit the picket lines Monday for a five-day strike amid a continued labor standoff.
The walkout by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, representing roughly 4,000 psychologists, therapists, psychiatric nurses, and other healthcare employees, had been planned in November but was delayed out of respect following the death of Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson.
Union officials said the walkout could result in the shutdown of more than 100 Kaiser clinics and medical facilities “from San Diego to Sacramento.” NUHW accused Kaiser of forcing clinicians to “accept significantly poorer retirement and health benefits than Kaiser provides to more than 120,000 other employees in California.”
“Mental health has been underserved and overlooked by the Kaiser system for too long,” Ken Rogers, a Kaiser psychologist, said in a statement released by the union. “We’re ready to work with Kaiser to create a new model for mental health care that doesn’t force patients to wait two months for appointments and leave clinicians with unsustainable caseloads.”
But Kaiser accused the union of flatly rejecting a proposal made by a neutral mediator and opting to strike instead of “working through the mediated process.”