About 2,000 Kaiser Permanente health workers in Hawaii are planning a strike later this month over wage and staffing problems.
UNITE HERE Local 5 said the strike, due to start on November 22, will affect 20 facilities in Hawaii. Thousands of Kaiser health workers in California have already announced they will go on strike Monday.
Local 5 branch spokesman Bryant de Venezia said on Wednesday that negotiations were ongoing. The Kaiser and the Health Trade Union Alliance began negotiations at the national level in April. Local 5 is also in talks with Kaiser on some Hawaii-related issues.
Local 5 said in a press release that Kaiser’s latest proposal was for a “offensive” 2% wage increase, subject to union consent to a two-tier pay system, under which new hires would receive lower wages. The union said the Kaiser also disregarded concerns about staff shortages, while workers are reporting stress and overwork during the coronavirus pandemic.
Arlene Pisnall, Kaiser’s senior vice president of human resources, said in a statement that employees represented by Hawaii unions earn about 26% above the market average. Kaiser was offering a 4% annual salary increase – a 2% increase in salary plus a 2% cash payment each year on a four-year contract, she said.
“The problem we are trying to solve in partnership with our unions is increasingly unaffordable health care costs. … Wages and benefits account for half of Kaiser Permanente’s operating costs,” she said, according to Hawaii News Now.