Hospital Workers Go on Strike in Southern California
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) _ Up to 11,000 Kaiser Permanente employees went on strike at seven hospitals and more than 40 medical offices in Southern California today after weekend talks failed to produce a contract.
″We have launched our strike and we are picketing at this moment at all of the facilities,″ said Doris Boyd Snyder, first vice president of the Service Employees International Union Local 399. ″We’ll hold off until we get a better offer.″
The union earlier rejected a three-year offer from Pasadena-based Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s oldest and largest health maintenance organization.
The union includes licensed vocational nurses, clerks, housekeepers and radiology technicians at seven of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Centers and more than 40 satellite medical offices in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Kaiser will draw borrow workers from facilities unaffected by the strike, said Janice Seib, a spokeswoman for the HMO. She said many patients had already been transferred out of Kaiser hospitals and non-emergency surgery had been postponed.
A six-hour negotiating session with a federal mediator ended Saturday without an agreement, Seib said.
On Friday, some 5,000 workers rejected a contract offer by more than 2-to- 1, said Tom Ramsay, a union spokesman.
The company had offered a 5 percent to 6 percent raise in the first year and a 3 percent to 5 percent raise during the second and third year.
The union has not said how big a raise it wants.
Kaiser employees accepted a wage freeze three years ago and have stood by the company during nine years of financial difficulty, Ramsay said.
″Now that Kaiser is back on their feet and prospering, employees expected some recognition and didn’t get that, and they were very angry,″ he said.
The hospitals affected are in Los Angeles, West Los Angeles, Panorama City, Woodland Hills, Harbor City, Bellflower and Anaheim.