We Could Be Looking at a Historic Healthcare Industry Strike

Overworked and underpaid, 35,000 Kaiser Permanente workers could walk off the job on Monday.

Maximillian Alvarez

Kaiser Permanente nurses hold signs and use bullhorns during an informational picket outside of the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center on November 10, 2021 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Thirty-five thousand members of the Alliance of Health Care Unions, a coalition of 21 local unions representing over 52,000 workers at the healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente in states around the country, have set a strike date. Unless the company addresses the serious issues that workers have raised at the bargaining table, Kaiser workers will walk off the job on Nov. 15, and thousands more may join in what could become one of the largest strikes ever in the healthcare sector. The core issues that led to the potential strike not only involve adequate compensation for union workers, but also the dire concerns about healthcare workers being grossly overworked and under-resourced, as well as two-tier employment and the struggle to draw in and retain trained staff. On top of the essential concerns that directly impact the jobs and livelihoods of healthcare workers, the outcome of this high-stakes labor struggle will have huge implications for the future of healthcare in the United States as we know it.

In this special edition of Working People, TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez speaks with two Kaiser workers, Hannah Winchester, DPT, and Nicholas Eng, RNFA, about the work that they do, the changes they’ve experienced in the healthcare system, and the dire conditions that have led to a potential strike. Hannah Winchester is a home health physical therapist by trade; she is also her department’s Labor Partner, a shop steward, and a member of the bargaining team for the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP) Professional Bargaining Unit. Nicholas Eng has been a nurse for nearly 10 years; he is also an OFNHP shop steward and is currently on release for OFNHP to be present for contract bargaining and to help with organizing union members and actions, including strike planning.

Additional links/​info below…

Working People, The Real News Network, A Small-Town Hospital Goes After Its Union Nurses

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Featured Music (all songs sourced from the Free Music Archive: freemu​si​carchive​.org)

  • Jules Taylor, Working People Theme Song”

Post-Production: Adam Coley

Maximillian Alvarez is a writer and editor based in Baltimore and the host of Working People, a podcast by, for, and about the working class today.” His work has been featured in venues like In These Times, The Nation, The Baffler, Current Affairs, and The New Republic.

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