More than 75,000 Kaiser Permanente workers plan to strike on Wednesday if a deal cannot be reached between a coalition of unions and the health care provider. If the strike does happen, the impact might not be as widespread in the D.C. region as it would be in other parts of the nation.
According to Kaiser Permanente, the contract that expired only covers some 400 pharmacists and optometrists in Virginia and D.C.
“In the event of a 24-hour strike on Oct. 4, we expect most of our facilities to remain open and operating with minimal disruption,” said Betty Hwang, a spokesperson for Kaiser Permanente.
Hwang said the unions do represent more than 4,800 employees in the mid-Atlantic region but only several hundred in the D.C. area would be a part of the work stoppage. The rest are working on a contract that expires Dec. 15, according to Hwang. Any picketing of those employees would be informational picketing, and not part of a work stoppage.
“In our region, this strike does not include nurses or physicians,” Hwang said.
The unions are calling for better wages, retirement benefits and protection from jobs being contracted out. Union negotiators, in a statement, said they are still prepared to come to the table for talks.
“However, no agreement can be made until Kaiser executives stop bargaining in bad faith and committing unfair labor practices,” the union coalition said in a statement.
Kaiser Permanente in a statement refuted the claim that it is bargaining in bad faith. It also said talks are ongoing and progress continues to be made in key areas.
“This week, we reached tentative agreements in four key areas: travel for continuing education, the use of temporary workers such as traveling nurses, tracking of staffing vacancies, and dispute resolution,” the statement read.