Kaiser Permanente workers have begun voting on whether to authorize a massive strike that would affect Kaiser facilities nationwide, according to the Service Employees International Union, one of the unions representing Kaiser workers.
Workers at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland are joining Kaiser workers in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Virginia and Washington, D.C. to cast ballots over the next month.
If authorized, the strike will begin in early October and would be the biggest strike in 20 years, union officials said.
According to the union, Kaiser workers have been without a contract since Sept. 30 and talks stalled July 12.
The union is accusing Kaiser of unfair labor practices, saying that the healthcare company is paying its executives exorbitant salaries while not providing adequate resources to workers and patients.
A spokesperson for Kaiser did not immediately return a request for comment.
Many Kaiser workers have been outspoken about their issues with the company in recent months. In July, Kaiser mental health care workers in San Francisco staged a one-day strike, saying that staffing reductions have led to severe cutbacks and long delays in service for serious mental health conditions.
At a recent Oakland City Council meeting, many Kaiser workers spoke in opposition to the council selling a city-owned parcel to a developer for a massive project on Telegraph Avenue that would eventually serve as Kaiser’s new headquarters.
While councilmembers encouraged Kaiser to reach a resolution with its workers, the council approved the land sale.
Sonia Allen Smith, a radiologic technologist at Kaiser’s Oakland medical center, said in a statement that Kaiser “has abandoned its mission to serve communities in favor of earning massive profits and enriching top executives.”
Kaiser’s executives “are thriving as Kaiser raises prices for patients, undermines quality healthcare, refuses to bargain in good faith and attacks the frontline healthcare workers who have made it successful,” Smith said.