Colorado’s Kaiser Permanente workers voted overwhelmingly in support of a nationwide strike in October over unfair labor practices.
Ninety-six percent of those who voted in the state supported authorizing a strike, the Service Employees International Union Local 105 said in a news release. The vote took place between Aug. 26 and Sept. 11, and 62% of workers participated.
“Kaiser has strayed too far from its mission — instead of prioritizing quality patient care and the workers who help provide it, they have shifted their focus to maximizing profits for their executives,” said Patricia Johnson-Gibson, a health care vice president at SEIU Local 105 in Denver. “We hope this strike vote sends a message to Kaiser that workers are willing to do whatever it takes to advocate for our patients and our families.”
More than 80,000 Kaiser workers around the country voted over the past three weeks, the union said, including more than 3,000 in Colorado. Contract talks between Kaiser and unions representing its workers derailed in July.
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Kaiser workers have demanded a new agreement that would ensure safe staffing, protect middle-class jobs and build a workforce to deal with significant projected shortages of licensed and accredited workers in the coming years, according to the SEIU.
Kaiser Permanente has 12.3 million members, including 640,000 in Colorado. It counts $80 billion of annual revenues, but its Colorado operations suffered $35 million in losses in recent years because of higher reimbursement costs to area hospitals.