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Strike by Kaiser mental health workers enters 7th week; latest contract offer rejected

Kaiser mental health clinicians strike over quality of care
Kaiser mental health clinicians strike over quality of care 01:03

SAN FRANCISCO – The union representing Kaiser Permanente mental health therapists on their seventh week of striking said members "resoundingly rejected a contract offer" from Kaiser over the weekend.

Workers in Northern California and the Central Valley went on strike Aug. 15. Leaders of the National Union of Healthcare Workers said Sunday the final tally was 1,349 to 222 to reject the latest contract offer.

"We presented Kaiser officials detailed proposals to increase staffing and improve access to care in the first negotiating session 14 months ago, and we won't accept a contract that ignores those issues," Ilana Marcucci-Morris, a Kaiser therapist and a member of the union's bargaining team. "At this point, Kaiser executives can't have any misconceptions about what it will take to secure a contract. We're ready to negotiate around the clock to get an agreement signed as quickly as possible. It's time for Kaiser to return to the bargaining table and end this strike."

A Kaiser spokesperson said 60% of the company's therapists have chosen to work through the strike.

"It is unfortunate that union leadership pressed members for a no vote, with assurances they would get more from continued contract bargaining. The 'more' that union leaders have identified will reduce access to mental health care for our members, and we have been clear we are not willing to do that," Kaiser officials said.

Workers want increased staffing and improved access to care for patients who sometimes must wait months for therapy appointments. Both sides have agreed to a wage increase, but the union also wants therapists to have more time to see returning patients and perform all of their patient care duties.

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