The health care worker revolt
The toll of the coronavirus pandemic has spurred nurses, front-line technicians and other hospital employees to walk out or authorize strikes.
- A strike authorization does not automatically trigger a strike. Unions still have to provide hospitals with a 10-day notice before walking out.
- Kaiser Permanente proposed 1% annual pay raises over the next three years and a two-tier wage system, but unions want 4% annual pay raises and no two-tier system.
Zoom out: The Kaiser Permanente fight is just the latest of several labor disputes.
- More than 700 nurses at Saint Vincent Hospital, a Tenet Healthcare facility in Massachusetts, have been on strike for seven months.
- Roughly 2,000 people who work at Mercy Hospital in New York, part of Catholic Health System, have been on strike since the start of October.
- Home care workers in Connecticut rallied for higher pay last month.
- Other recent health care strikes have taken place in Alabama, Montana and Oregon, among other places.
What they're saying: "We're drowning. There's just not enough staff," Jennifer Stone, a unionized ER technician at Sutter Delta Medical Center in California, said in a press release earlier this month. "We're talking down angry COVID patients, then we're rushing to a code ... We can't do it all anymore."
- Hospitals are down 117,000 people, and nursing homes are down 247,000.
The bottom line: Low staffing levels are often the driving force behind health care work stoppages, and the pandemic has made that situation even worse in many areas.