Kaiser, union reach tentative deal after 3-day strike by health care workers

By Ryan Haas (OPB)
Oct. 13, 2023 1:47 p.m.
Kaiser workers dance on the picket line while striking outside Sunnyside Hospital in Clackamas, Oregon, on Thursday, Oct. 5.  The union was pushing for higher wages, saying low pay was contributing to turnover and short staffing.

Kaiser workers dance on the picket line while striking outside Sunnyside Hospital in Clackamas, Oregon, on Thursday, Oct. 5. The union was pushing for higher wages, saying low pay was contributing to turnover and short staffing.

Amelia Templeton / OPB

Administrators with Kaiser Permanente and a union representing health care workers say they have reached a tentative contract deal following a three-day strike last week.

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The Service Employees International Union announced the deal on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

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Last week, around 75,000 Kaiser workers across the country, including in Oregon, walked off the job in protest of staffing shortages and pay. It was widely considered the largest health care strike in U.S. history.

In Oregon, the workers on strike included service and clerical workers, certified nursing assistants, food service workers, housekeeping staff, schedulers and others, through SEIU Local 49. The strike led to notable disruptions in service at Kaiser facilities, as some medical and dental offices had to close.

Hundreds of nursing assistants, lab staff, and other healthcare service workers picket Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital on Thursday Oct. 5, 2023. The national strike by a coalition of Kaiser Unions lasted three days.

Hundreds of nursing assistants, lab staff, and other healthcare service workers picket Kaiser Sunnyside Hospital on Thursday Oct. 5, 2023. The national strike by a coalition of Kaiser Unions lasted three days.

Amelia Templeton / OPB

Friday’s deal does not include pharmacy workers, who are also striking at Kaiser. Their union, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, has yet to reach a deal with the health care giant. That strike could last through Oct. 21, according to Kaiser.

Patients in Oregon may continue to see delays in filling prescriptions until that strike is resolved. As of Friday morning, Kaiser said its pharmacy locations at the Gateway, Keizer Station, Orchards, Rockwood, Salmon Creek, Sunnybrook and Tualatin medical offices remain closed.

The company has encouraged patients to seek prescriptions through its mail order program, through its app or at partnering retail pharmacies. More information is available online.

This is a developing story and may be updated.

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