Unionized health care workers will begin a monthlong series of pickets Tuesday at Kaiser Permanente facilities across the state, including protests this week at hospitals in Harbor City, Baldwin Park and West Los Angeles.
“Kaiser is raking in money and yet it’s acting like it has no choice but to outsource jobs, relocate workers and pay new employees less,” union member Lanette Griffin said in a statement released by Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West. “It makes no sense because Kaiser Permanente is a nonprofit organization and it is supposed to be putting the community’s interests first.”
The union accused Kasier of boosting its bottom line while making cuts that could hurt patient care. It alleged that the hospital plans to lay off pharmacy warehouse workers in Downey and make further staff cuts at other warehouses while relocating call center jobs in Los Angeles, Baldwin Park and Woodland Hills to other areas where workers will earn less.
Kaiser officials said the union’s claims “are exactly the opposite of what’s happening.”
“The changes we are working on will ultimately give our members and patients better service, at a lower cost, and help meet tougher government standards around controlled substances,” said John Nelson, vice president of communications for Kaiser Permanente.
“What’s more, Kaiser Permanente is growing, and we are adding jobs overall,” he said. “As one of the largest private employers in California with more than 149,000 employees and 16,000 physicians in the state, since 2015, we have added more than 13,000 jobs in California and continue to add jobs with more than 12,000 open staff positions and hundreds of physician positions.”
According to the union, pickets will be held Tuesday at Kaiser Permanente South Bay in Harbor City, at the Baldwin Park hospital Wednesday and West Los Angeles Thursday. Additional pickets are planning in coming weeks in the Antelope Valley, Downey, Los Angeles, Orange County, Panorama City and other hospitals around California.
Nelson stressed that the informational pickets are not a strike and will not affect patient care.
“While this union is staging picketing, the physicians and employees of Kaiser Permanente will remain focused on the important work of delivering high-quality, affordable care to our members and improving the health of the communities we serve,” Nelson said.