Healthcare strike hits as approval of Biden's economic record continues to tank

 October 5, 2023

A recent Investor's Business Daily poll found that President Joe Biden's economic approval rating has hit a new low. What's more, a labor dispute involving hospital workers could make the situation even worse. 

According to Breitbart, 75,000 healthcare workers employed at Kaiser Permanente hospitals hit the picket lines on Wednesday.

Six states and the District of Columbia affected

The strike spans across six states and the District of Columbia, with wages and staffing shortages being the main points of contention.

The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions approved a three-day work stoppage in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, as well as a one day strike in Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Doctors are not participating in the labor disruption but other licensed health professionals are, including nurses, home health aides and ultrasound sonographers, along with radiology, X-ray, surgical, pharmacy, and emergency department technicians.

While Kaiser announced that it has recruited thousands of temporary workers to keep emergency rooms open, delays in getting appointments are to be expected and non-urgent procedures will be rescheduled.

Union claims Kaiser facilities are understaffed

The union alleges that Kaiser is understaffing its centers in order to boost profits, creating a more stressful environment for employees while putting patients at risk.

Mikki Fletchall is a licensed vocational nurse who works at a Kaiser medical facility in California, and she voiced dissatisfaction over how Kaiser Permanente is operating.

"They’re not listening to the frontline health care workers," Breitbart quoted Fletchall as saying. "We’re striking because of our patients. We don’t want to have to do it, but we will do it."

However, the healthcare giant disputes this, pointing out that its turnover rate stands at 7%, far lower than the industry standard of 21%.

Dueling wage proposals

"Our focus, for the dollars that we bring in, are to keep them invested in value-based care," said Michelle Gaskill-Hames, who serves as president of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals of Southern California and Hawaii.

"I think coming out of the pandemic, health care workers have been completely burned out," Gaskill-Hames continued, adding, "The trauma that was felt caring for so many COVID patients, and patients that died, was just difficult."

Union negotiators are seeking a $25 per hour minimum wage plus an annual increase of 7% in the first two years followed by an annual 6.25% for two years thereafter.

Kaiser has countered with a proposed minimum hourly wage ranging between $21 and $23 depending on the location in question.

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