By April Dembosky
Mental health clinicians at Kaiser are walking off the job Monday, commencing a week-long, statewide strike. Their main complaint: Kaiser isn’t hiring enough therapists and psychologists to see patients in a timely manner.
But the strike also comes after four years of contract negotiations between Kaiser and the National Union of Healthcare Workers have yielded few agreements.
“We’ve tried one and two day actions in the past. Kaiser is not paying attention to that,” says Clement Papazian, a social worker at Kaiser and a local union representative. “We feel like it’s the appropriate time to escalate these actions.”
Kaiser called the strike “unnecessary and counterproductive.”
John Nelson, Kaiser’s vice president of government relations, says the the hospital system is meeting its patients’ mental health needs, even after Kaiser has taken on thousands of new patients under the Affordable Care Act.
“Since 2011, we’ve grown membership by eight percent in California. We’ve increased the number of therapists in California who work at Kaiser Permanente by 25 percent,” Nelson said. “That’s quite an accomplishment.” Continue reading