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Hot Strike Summer in US May End With Historic Healthcare Walkout

Safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19 at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in SeattleInternationalIndiaAfricaA coalition of unions representing workers at Kaiser Permanente announced they failed to reach a deal with the company on Saturday, setting the stage for strike action.More than 300,000 workers have gone on strike in the United States since January, marking one of the biggest years for organized labor in recent memory.Now, the year could end with the biggest healthcare strike in the history of the country.The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, a group representing 75,000 staff across multiple states, announced they failed to reach a deal with the medical giant on Saturday, meaning as of 11:59 PM (local time) employees are working under an expired contract. If it’s not replaced by Wednesday, the coalition of unions is promising a walkout.“Workers are really being squeezed right now,” said Renee Saldana, a spokesperson for one of the eight constituent unions of the coalition. “They went through the worst global health crisis in a generation and then they come out and they’re worried about paying rent, they’re worried about losing their house, they’re worried about living in their cars.”Major sticking points between the union and the company include pay and pension plans. The unions are also seeking protections against outsourced and subcontracted labor, which they say the company is using to drive down costs while paying temporary workers less.But after months of significant inflation, workers’ salaries are perhaps at the top of the coalition’s list of demands. “I can’t afford to live where I work,” read signs held up at a Labor Day protest in Los Angeles last month.A similar complaint was made recently by the union of public employees for the city which launched a major temporary strike this summer. Large strikes by the United Auto Workers and Hollywood writers have also grabbed headlines, but large unions are not the only ones making waves this year. More than 300 strikes have taken place in the United States in 2023 so far according to research from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.If Wednesday’s temporary walkout doesn’t produce a contract, the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions is promising an even bigger strike in November, when a contract for Washington state healthcare workers expires.Pharmacists, optometrists, X-ray technicians, nursing assistants and EMTs are among the workers represented by the coalition of unions which represents employees in hundreds of hospitals and offices throughout the country.

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