This week, there is a high expectancy that Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers in Fresno will vote to authorize a strike, according to union representatives in the area.
Facility workers including respiratory therapists, lab technicians, housekeepers, cooking staff, and employees of other divisions commonly share grand concerns of the staffing crisis while working for the provider.
Involvement with the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West comprises of 1,500 employees at Fresno County Kaiser, according to Renée Saldaña, the union's press secretary.
According to Fresnoland in a recent article, SEIU-UHW's members are casting their votes on whether to strike through Wednesday, union member and Kaiser cytotechnologist Melanie Reno said. The strike can start as early as October 1st if the authorization for the strike passes, meaning hundreds of workers walking off the job.
“I believe it is going to happen,” Reno said. “It's just a matter of when.”
This potential strike is just one of the many labor actions going on throughout the state and nation, a historic movement for the working-class people.
For the Central Valley, it adds on more pressure for an area that has physician understaffing for the general public.
Kaiser leaders meanwhile insist the strike authorization vote “does not reflect any breakdown in bargaining” and called it “a disappointing action” given recent progress in negotiations in an emailed statement Sept. 8.
SEIU-UHW isn't the only Kaiser employees' union taking a strike vote right now. “They're part of a coalition of unions covering over 85,000 health care workers in California and other states, including Colorado, where members already overwhelmingly voted in favor of a strike,” according to Fresnoland.
On the other end, administrative officials at Kaiser claim an agreement will be made before the workers' contract expires, on September 30th.
“We will urge our employees to reject any call for an actual strike in October,” the statement reads, “and continue to focus on providing high-quality care and service to our members, patients, and communities who need us to be there for them.”
There wasn't much clarification by Kaiser on how services will be maintained if a strike occurs, but Reno responded that management isn't transitioning into this labor fight emptyhanded.
“We have seen the notices about how much they're willing to pay people to try to come in and work through a work stoppage,” she said. “We know they're making plans for how they're going to handle this.”