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Strike looms for thousands of Colorado Kaiser Permanente health care workers wanting "fair and equitable" working conditions

Strike looms for thousands of Colorado health care workers
Strike looms for thousands of Colorado health care workers 02:31

UPDATE: Strike begins, Colorado Kaiser Permanente health care workers start picketing

Kaiser Permanente received a strike notice from the union that represents about 3,000 of its Colorado employees. The health care company and union negotiators were at the bargaining table again Monday. If they don't reach an agreement soon, more than 75,000 workers nationwide are prepared to walk out Wednesday morning.   

According to the union, picketing would be done at Kaiser facilities in Colorado, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, Washington state and Washington, D.C.

"Nobody wants us to get to that point," said Stephanie Felix-Sowy, president of SEIU Local 105, which represents health care, public sector, property service and industrial workers. "But folks have really maintained that they're going to do everything necessary to make sure that patients are safe and that this contract gets done."

Stephanie Felix-Sowy, president of SEIU Local 105 CBS

The workers' contract expired Saturday and Felix-Sowy says negotiations have been slightly disappointing and frustrating. Workers want Kaiser to better address the issues behind understaffing and retention, from hiring practices to guaranteed benefits and education.

She says pay is only part of it.

"It's a real slap in the face when we're talking about movement of, you know, half percentages when it comes to wage increases," she said. "We represent members of the coalition across these states that have some of the most expensive cities to live in."

Kaiser Permanente says they are offering to further invest in its employees through wage increases, continuing existing health benefits and renewing tuition assistance and training programs.

In a statement, Kaiser Permanente says: 

"We will continue to bargain in good faith until we reach a fair and equitable agreement that strengthens our position as a best place to work and ensures that the high-quality care our members expect from us remains affordable and easy to access." 

Kaiser says they have contingency plans in place to ensure patients continue to receive safe, high-quality care during this strike period. The union says quality has already suffered. 

"Patients are feeling the impact right now of the Kaiser short-staffing crisis," said Felix-Sowy. "We were thoughtful about we put together our proposals in what would immediately impact the effects of short staffing, both on the actual employee as well as the immediate patient." 

Kaiser Permanente strike
A 2019 Getty Images file photo shows Kaiser Permanente strike ballots at Kaiser Skyline Medical Center in Denver. RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Should a strike occur, Kaiser says medical offices and urgent care departments will remain open. They may need to reschedule certain non-urgent appointments and procedures. Patients will contacted in advance if necessary. 

Should a strike occur, Kaiser will update this page with information about any impacted locations and services: 

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