Hawaiʻi Can Podcast: Episode 1 – Kaiser Permanente workers talk about health care industry

 

Listen to episode:

0:06

Aloha mai kakou,  welcome to Hawaii Can. I’m your host Bryant de Venecia, I am a communications organizer for Unite Here Local 5, Hawaii’s hospitality and healthcare Union. For a very first episode, we will talk about the state of the healthcare industry here in Hawaii, and we will hear directly from health care workers. There are more than 2000 Local 5 members working in the health care division, most of them at Kaiser Permanente. So in this episode we will discuss some of the larger issues faced by our Local 5 members like job security, staffing, and overall future of the workforce. Our first guest is Maile Hamada. She’s a Local 5 member at Kaiser Permanente and Maile is among the workers who are currently facing the threat of job loss, and the pandemic. So Maile Welcome to our show.

 

0:55

Hi my name is Maile Hamada. I have been with Kaiser for 21 years now in the patient, financial services department. We are the back end of the whole process, when the patient comes in for services, it goes from when you check in, they’re treated once they’re treated, the physician enters the charges, it spits out into our work use, we process the billing under their Kaiser benefit, or if they have different types of coverage like Medicare/Medicaid, our department is responsible for processing those bills, because the quicker we can get it out, the quicker we can get the payment in. Our department is responsible for entering payments from insurance carriers as well as patients when they’re seeing at the time of service. So, we’re the back end where the last stop before that claim gets billed out the door, and that’s primarily what we’re responsible for. In addition, we also do billing for workers compensation claims, and no-fault accident.

 

2:18

[Bryant] Great. Thank you for explaining that needs to be clear for listeners, right? Like who are the patient financial services folks that we see on the streets, waving signs and doing some actions. So, one year of working in a pandemic. And then, you’ve heard the news. Walk us through that at the ending of last year.

 

2:41

I want to say it was around September or October, I was asked to attend a meeting in my shop steward role. And we were told that Kaiser wanted to meet with us to discuss some restructuring that was going to happen. And we are in a partnership with Kaiser. Local 5 is our union. We are in a partnership with them, so partnership principles are that you engage with labor. Before you make any decisions that could affect, the workflows processes, working conditions, it’s a way to be transparent, being partners. And so, I went in, I guess with a good mindset, initially, until they delivered the news. And needless to say, I was upset. In the first few minutes of the conversation. And we were being told that our department, they were looking to eliminate our fire department, and the target date was no more than three months away, which was a shock. We had no clue leading up to it.

 

4:13

[Bryant] Well this is and this is the entire patient financial services and how many, how big is this department,

 

4:22

[Maile] that would affect 57 of our positions, which include collectors dealers or data entry folks, our accounts receivable folks. It wasn’t following the partnership principles, which is that you engage with labor for their input. Basically, in the embryonic stage. For instance, you come up with an idea of how maybe, or maybe Kaiser has a, an issue that they’d like to solve for, whether it be cost effectiveness workforce effectiveness, whatever the topic may be. And they identify the issue, they engage with labor. They both lists their interests, and oftentimes you’ll find that some interests are common. And together, in partnership, you will develop a solution that is fair to both parties. It’s fair to labor, it’s fair to the organization. And that’s how you resolve an issue, not coming to us with dinner already cooked, full buffet with dessert. And it’s been served to you. And that’s what it felt like, it, I felt disrespected, in that way. I felt disrespected as an employee who has dedicated 21 years of my life to this company. And it was like a kick in the gut; a hard kick in the gut that I felt like how dare you disrespect us as an equal partner in this partnership. And then you come and serve us dinner and dessert. Where, what happened to us, shopping for the ingredients, so to speak, right? They’re taking us apart piece by piece. So, as if, eliminating our department isn’t difficult enough. They’re ripping us apart piece by piece, and folks who are affected in the first wave, since it’s gone by. Bargaining Unit seniority. Union seniority. It’s emotionally, tearing people down. You still have to work 45 days until your last day, and even for folks who are not affected in the first wave as first wave affects eight people. So even if you’re not from the first wave, it still affects you. It’s hurtful that you’re seeing this happen to everyone.  it’s an emotional roller coaster for all of us and a lot of folks now have conditions they never had before, they’re suffering from anxiety, depression—some of my coworkers are experiencing hair loss, weight loss, weight gain. I myself had to take additional blood pressure meds, since all this can happen. So, it’s, it’s a tough situation. What were the big fears, what were the frustrations? For me personally, and I’m going to get emotional because it is hard, talk. Um, like for me personally, I’m 53 years old. This has been what I’ve done most of my adult life. And thinking about going back to school, potentially getting into another type of job. I know I’m smart. I’m a quick learner. But I’m 52 years old. I’m not going to be as desirable as somebody maybe in their 30s or early 40s. So it’s the reality of it. Luckily, I’m, I have seniority in my department. And through our discussions, we were able to get the company to agree to keep 15 positions local. We had to fight for them.

 

9:18

But we don’t know what those 15 positions look like. We don’t know what the work looks like you’re taking 57 positions and combining them into 15. And I think it’s probably because they’re really not sure if their plan is going to work. So those 15 positions could very well be, just all the junk that comes back. What’s that gonna look like am I gonna be able to cut it?

 

9:52

[Bryant] when you say ‘cutting it,’ you are referring to workload or capacity or job combination.

 

10:00

[Maile] All of the above are our department is multifaceted. So, we have a call center that takes all of the incoming patient question calls. So, for that, is they’re insisting that it’s technology that’s going to replace that. But we’ve heard a rumor that there is a third-party vendor that are currently in those accounts and probably going to be taking those calls. There are, there is some technology that are making phone calls for collectors. And so, we know that that’s happening, patients are getting text messages or repeated robot calls—”robo calls,” and they’re not happy about it. Because when they do call in and they get a live body, they’re expressing how disappointed they are in what’s happening, why is this robot call calling me seven times a day. So, it’s clear that the patients are not happy about it. And yet, our customer service people would take those calls. Normally they’re hearing all of those complaints and continuing to give feedback. And so, it just confirms that what’s happening is really not good for the patients, and it hurts us, because the work that we do. We go out of our way to take care of the patient and exude that aloha spirit in whatever interaction we have whether it’s with an insurance carrier, or whether it’s with the patient.  what I mean. That aloha spirit that we give technology can’t replace it, because technology does not heal technology serves, but it doesn’t feel. And so, no it’s a hard pill to swallow that. That’s what Kaiser is transitioning to because their model is taking care of Hawaii’s people like family. But how are you doing that. That’s not taking care of always people like family.  what I mean, it’s, I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how Kaiser is going to continue to take care of always people like family. When you’re making decisions, such as this.

 

12:43

[Bryant] I love how you use metaphors to, to explain the issue in this situation,

 

[Maile] I can’t help it

 

[Bryant] but they’re very well said the way you shared about technology does not feel or cannot feel they serve, and we can all relate, when we have to call customer service and the machine is answering, and press two for this. Press the star for me.

 

[Maile]No, that’s why you get zero any getting zero

 

[Bryant] it’s always frustrating and so one thing too that the community and the public will definitely relate is our capacity as a community to take care of our own people, is ingrained in this work. And so when we outsource we when we subcontract and take away the work from a local community to somewhere else, it impacts the culture, do you envision any type of how difficult it would be for Hawaii people if these things continue to happen?

 

13:52

[Maile] Oh yes, um, I mean, not only in the customer service that we know right. Hawaii is unique in, in how we display the aloha spirit, And I know. Some patients that I’ve spoken to in the past, they talk about the services that they received when they come to Hawaii, and how warm it is that they love Kaiser. They’ve been with Kaiser for a very long time. But the feel that they get when they come to, a Hawaii facility is a feeling they haven’t experienced anywhere else.  that’s something that can’t take away from us. And I’m sure our Kaiser, brothers and sisters in other regions, I’m sure that they’re really nice people, and they may do their jobs really well, but it is different. The culture is different, so I just, I feel that Kaiser is going down the wrong path. It’s not good for the community, but what are the other changes that you’ve noticed small things that Kaiser has been doing one that really sticks out is, they started installing kiosks and the various facilities, when they initially implemented the kiosks, it was kind of like a testing. They had gotten this idea of California. , so they decided to bring it here, too. It was supposed to make the patient experience better. And so, they implemented these kiosks and, um, initially it wasn’t a good idea, because the error rate was too high. So I guess they had tweaked some stuff and decided to deploy even more throughout the state. And a lot of us looked at that as technology replacing God, you can kind of see where Kaiser was going as they like to lead the way in technology. I believe Kaiser was the first electronic medical records. Here in Hawaii so that was one of the things that they started chipping away. And then, stamping with our check in people. So, the registration folks that you would normally go to the clinic. Go to the registration person and that’s how you check in for your appointment. Now they’re encouraged to use the kiosk. So more and more we’re seeing a lot of that, there’s a lot less human interaction, And, again, I’ve spoken with some patients, and they don’t like that, especially our kupuna, they’re not tech savvy. So, they, they miss the interaction and for some of them. That might be the only time they’re interacting with anyone outside of their household, is when they come for their doctor checkup.  it’s really sad to see that because a lot of our kupuna, they do have a hard time with just smartphones. I know my mom is 74 years old, and I have to remind myself to be very patient. When she can’t figure out how to get back to the home screen, or why, why she can’t get a camera to work or whatever it is  so I know the challenge, but it just seems like more and more folks are forced in that direction, even our coupon and, And that’s the ones that my, I feel for so much. , because they do struggle with that and my husband refuses to use the chaos, and he doesn’t care if there’s a line, he says, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna use that chaos, Because that is going to replace somebody’s job, and he’s very adamant about that, and I’m happy that he is because I’m the same way.

 

18:07

[Bryant] I can totally relate to that and also at the same time too, right, we go to these facilities to access health care, it is to take care of our bodies which is very purse, it’s a very personal thing. And so it goes back to your statement about technology, not being able to feel as it takes away the humanity of a situation where we are being forced to be vulnerable because we seek help for our bodies for our physical being, for our health. and the first things that greet us are machines and technology and people who we cannot relate, it is very difficult. I can only imagine what our kupuna goes through every time they’re forced to check in using those kiosks or even tried to refill their prescriptions online or 3d It’s always so annoying. Talking about jobs, you mentioned how just how important it is and majority of local 5 members as people know our hospitality and hotel workers, and with the hotels. We are still fighting to bring a majority of our members who are furloughed back to work. I am sharing this because it is a very different situation with Kaiser did not close during the pandemic Kaiser actually grew during the pandemic, can make a lot of money. Yes. Can you share that just so our listeners can have an idea of the unnecessary nature of these decisions by current Yeah.

 

19:45

[Maile] And so this, this was another kick in the gut moment right. So, we have knowledge that that Kaiser has 36 plus billion dollars in reserves—“reserves” keyword. So, it’s not something that they have to do. It’s something that they’re choosing to do. Now in addition to that, yes, during the pandemic. Kaiser did save money by folks working from home. I think their projected member loss may have been lost in membership with, like he said they grew, it’s really disheartening, and it makes it really really hard to take. When we know these things, if I guess knowing that it’s not something that they have to do, but it’s something that they’re choosing to do, so it makes me feel like they’re taking advantage of the situation that well, we’re in a pandemic. There’s a lot of other people that are losing their jobs. So, hey, maybe this is the perfect time, where maybe it’s not going to feel as bad, or maybe it’s something that the community is going to be okay with.

 

21:02

[Bryant] After a year of sacrifices Yeah Do you remember because we, we did recognize the importance of taking care of our health care workers and so I remember  CARES Act. They were offered Cares Act money just so yes, just to support them but they turned the train turned it down. Yes, they turned it down, and they did so well in 2020 on quarters all of these information are public, so we’re not making things up right now

 

21:33

[Maile] and especially in the first quarter of this year, they just reported, so you’re giving us notice that you’re taking our jobs that Kaiser is struggling blah blah. And a week later we get an email saying they’re reporting out, what, what they made, what they’re, that they have profit in the first quarter of the year.  so, it’s things like that, that you cannot help but feel that the hard work and the loyalty that we all gave this company. It was really financing, because at the end of the day, we’re just 57 numbers on a piece of paper, and no we’re not. We’re human beings, there’s, there’s a story to each number on that piece of paper. And I think the takeaway that we get from this is that they really don’t care. And thank God we have a union, where we have a voice. We have the ability to fight back.  there’s folks that were let go before us that that weren’t union members that didn’t have that chance. So, we’re really speaking up and we’re really that voice for everybody else because it’s very clear that, although Kaiser is starting with, our area. It’s very clear that there, there will be more, because this is the first of many to come.

 

23:07

[Bryant] There is a trend here, right, they are making decisions on behalf of our community, without even consulting, what we need as a community and especially for their members and right. Yeah, how with all of these things that are happening that big companies like Kaiser are doing, how do you see the future of Hawaii’s workforce. If these things keep on happening.

 

23:33

[Maile] I am really concerned. I am concerned, and it’s, it’s really, it makes me sad.  what, what jobs are gonna be there for our kids. My daughter’s in the same field.  what, what’s her future gonna look like. And, we need good jobs here in Hawaii. And I know that, um, again, back to our union who fights for the best contracts, and I can say that confidently, because I have worked for the competition, at one point or another. But, we lead the way in wages and benefits. Up until now, and we actually raised the standards for the community. , for folks who aren’t even local tribe. They benefit from what we fight for, because the competition, don’t want their folks coming over right so if we fight. We’re lifting, we’re lifting, everybody up with us as we continue to fight. So that’s something I’m very proud of.

 

24:54

[Bryant] I cannot say that more beautifully. Thank you for, for talking about the union advantage right and it’s very refreshing to hear it from my healthcare workers perspective because I have always said this tourism industry is inherently exploitative we’ve seen it from our members, we’ve seen the how the industry takes advantage of our land or resources or people will local 5 has been one of the few entities who truly cares about Hawaii that isn’t a tourism industry. And so I think it’s a really good segue to the last piece, my last question to you and we can close this top story is, what is your message to our community, that, how can we support you and also how can we look at the bigger picture so we can all support one another.

 

25:53

[Maile] My message to the community would be, help us, help us to continue fighting for you. Support us sign our petition. No. Call the union office, find out when, when we’re doing our next action. This is when we need to unite as a community, as a people, because although folks may not realize it, a loss of any job. Just one is a huge loss to the community. We’re talking right now 57 jobs, right, and we utilize different establishments where folks in the community might work. Same with our hotel folks, not being able to return to work yet. That affects the community as a whole. So, back to an injury to one is an injury to all. You may not see it now, but it is a domino effect. So, we do need the community’s support. We will continue fighting. And we will continue fighting for our patient, but we need to protect our local jobs. We need to get those clinics, back, open, so they can service our patients, our kupuna, but we need to keep fighting and it’s gonna take all of us to do it. These corporations are big, but there’s many of us it’s like David and Goliath right.

 

27:38

[Bryant] We have strength in numbers, right, yeah. We will fight. We will fight because we’re local 5.

 

27:44

[Maile] If I didn’t think that we didn’t have a chance to come together and unite for the right purpose, I probably wouldn’t be doing it, but I, I have faith in my union I have faith in my peers. I have faith in our community that we can do this. It’s time. It’s time that we come together enough is enough, we don’t want to have to move away. I don’t want to have to move away. This is my own, born and raised here, roots go very deep and wide.  and I just hope that we can continue to fight so more people won’t have to be driven to remain.

 

28:26

[Bryant] Thank you so much for inspiring us Maile for, this is a very eye-opening conversation. Our next guest is another local 5 leader at Kaiser Permanente. She is currently out on leave of absence to help with the Kaiser Permanente campaign. So welcome, Gracie.

 

28:43

Hello Hi everyone I’m Gracie Esperanza. I’ve been employed by Kaiser 18 years, and I started off as a nurse’s aide. And then, ventured to you did babies hearing, and then when there’s opportunity to become a ward clerk, I did that and currently I am to diamond head in the hospital side. I’m a unit secretary,

 

29:14

[Bryant] maybe you can share a little bit about when our contract is expiring with Kaiser and just the big issues that we are trying to push against.

 

29:29

[Gracie] Well since we joined the partnership in 2018 with Kaiser and our national partner is the Alliance and also Local 5. Us workers we believe in the program of partnership, and knowing that our contract ending in September, we felt like because we’re in partnership, we felt like Kaiser will be workable, because of partnership, they will be gladly come to the table and tell us what needs to be improved, what needs to be worked on. But that is not happening, though, the work, the word of partnership, they’re not utilizing it to its full benefit. Well right now we are almost to September, and I can honestly say there has been no agreement from both sides. It upset me because I thought we were in partnership. The workers when we were in 2018, the employees went trainings, we talked about what is partnership, how to deal with both side working, finding the root cause analysis interest-based problem solving. All that we went through the training. And since our contract is ending in September. Honestly speaking, we are not close to an agreement. And that saddens me because I thought we were in partnership. It said it saddened me to the fact that working with Kaiser, it’s not just a place where we just work. This is people livelihood. This is where we, this is our second family, majority of our life is spent with Kaiser, so having Kaiser closing clinics like Nana’ikeola are not utilizing the clinics, it’s been full capacity. That’s not partnership and having to close unit in the hospital. That’s not part of partnership, and what hurt me the most is that fine, we’re gonna deal with it as partnership but what hurts me the most is the patient. We all know that medical access to health care is very important when we are sick, sick, we are wanting to go to the hospital and to get home. And because of the closing down department that is cutting back workers, cutting the access to healthcare, to from the patient point of view and that hurts me because I myself is a patient. My mommy that is a patient. My dad is a survivor of stroke. And if there’s no program or the access is limited. What are we seeing? And even though I might not own Kaiser, but I work there, and people my family member knows that, and I don’t want it to be like, why is Kaiser this and all I can say is, I don’t know, it’s running by upper management, I don’t know, because bottom line local people will come.

 

33:16

[Bryant] Also you are saying that a few years ago we became a part of the partnership we entered this space in good faith, and now that our contract with Kaiser is almost expiring, and there are things that  we are not seeing into fruition, or some decisions being made without our input as a union. Do you have specific example where that happened Just So our members can, grasp this idea of partnership because it’s very complicated from a workers standpoint, right?

 

33:51

Gracie right. So, I brought up early are brought up earlier the interest-based problem solving. So where management and labor comes to the table. Define the problem, identify the problem and together as partnership, both labor and management need to come up with the solution, how to deal with the problem. But Kaiser has not been doing that, they just been moving forward going on the table with them, by themselves, not having labor, labor, involve. And the only time Kaiser, have the worker involved is when it’s already been planned out, and that’s not partnership. Partnership to us as employee and as well as the union is from the very beginning stage when, for example, if you’re planning to make a spam musubi. You, you can come together with your partner and say, what do we need you plan, we’re going to need spam rice and everything else, not involved, your other partner when you already built the Spam musubi and then you let your partners that what do you think of it, that’s not partnership.

 

35:15

[Bryant] Yeah, let’s talk a little bit about just a local bargaining and we can discuss more of the national bargaining later.

 

35:22

[Gracie] So locally. Right now, we have been meeting sometime now beginning ending of July. I’m sorry, ending of June. We’ve been meeting together, and what I want to point out the main issue is, which is adequately staffing and job security. We do have other proposal but those are the two that we are strongly feel strongly about, due to the fact that they’ve been cutting workers, they’ve been closing down. Like for example our patient accounting department, they shut that down because Southern Cal has it. It makes sense because we live in an island. You see, when, When you live in an island are supply is limited, whatever we have. That’s what we have. And if they tried to cut workers out. We left with skeleton crew, and the skeleton crew, it’s not going to be functioning well and provide that quality while experience what Kaiser has been drilling to us, we cannot, we cannot, because the left hand means the right hand at the same time because we deal with life and death. It’s not like you going to Walmart where if you don’t have a person in the jury department, the apparel can do it, not in healthcare, everyone is trained, and they are doing school for what they’re doing. That’s something that you cannot just wing it. That’s something you need to be trained and educated about because dealing with life. You only get one shot.

 

37:20

[Bryant] I want you to expand more on that experience because did you come out of LA before the pandemic, or when it was happening.

 

37:31

[Gracie] I came out before the pandemic, prior to me coming out, working with local 5, I was, I held a position in the partnership site which is the alliance partner, I was up Alliance partnership representative, and I promoted the partnership, site of Kaiser and local 5. I, my passion is. Bottom line if it’s doing the right thing. If the employer is not treating the employee, that’s my passion, I’m gonna get the needy gritty, get the bottom of it, so that there’s justice for the employee. Can I go ahead. Yeah,

 

38:18

[Bryant] One thing that a lot of our folks don’t realize is when the pandemic happened when everything shut down in March 2020 a lot of our biggest industry is the tourism industry, so everything shut down, but we also represent Healthcare Workers Local 5 represent around 2000 or more healthcare workers and they are the folks who continue to working and actually was, the very front line in this pandemic. And when this pandemic is starting. We were there. I want you to walk us through what you’ve experienced and what you will witness. when it was starting in our cases we’re going up, and we have no idea what this virus is about and how we’re going to address it, but our workers were there being heroes.

 

39:11

[Gracie] It’s scary to live a moment where you want to move forward, because it’s scary as a frontline workers when you graduate as a nurse you get into this field. You do it because you are passionate, of what you do. At times, frontline workers give up themself, even their own family just to provide care to the community. And what the first department that got hit first, was the ER. Okay, er, prior to COVID were shortly staff, they did not have their resources, no, they started as 56 employees as Ed Tech that’s Local 5 staff, and they, they end up with 26 and that’s going in the pandemic. And on top of that, we did not know you’re right, we did not know what we were dealing with. So, each day was a different communication from Kaiser, and we just got the, the guidance to our employer. And er got it worse, nor right PPS protective gear. We don’t know how we can catch it. And that’s scary, because when people come, they don’t know what they have, and you have to. At times you don’t have enough time to put on the face shield, don’t have time to put on your glove at times, as frontline workers. I can tell you, Brian. It’s a scary thought to where you want to just forget about it. Having to attend to a COVID patient takes three times harder to be in that room, not only to provide care but emotionally, mentally, and physically. You’re drained out. Normally, patients that you take care in the hospital, they can communicate with you this, they’re like, in their deathbed. They have pipe in there, down their throat, they have oxygen, they’re equipped to all this equipment, and you as a frontline worker, you need to be able to identify and be able to see the symptoms and be able to logically mentally able to give that aim to that patient because they cannot talk. And it’s hard when people see we’re not a hero, because at times, going home. We feel drained. Yeah, we feel like it’s like, what did just happen. And even though, you just had an going home, you want to go back because that there’s more people in the hospital that needs you. And it’s sad.

 

It’s been rough, the past year and a half, and it is. We’re going down that path again. Unfortunately,

 

[Bryant] Just to share, I got a COVID test yesterday at Kaiser in Mapunapuna, and the line was long. I waited 30 minutes to get a test. But that’s the first time that I’ve seen the line so long, and  it does put strain in our healthcare and our infrastructure and I think the public needs to know that when we talk about ICU beds when we talk about hospitals we talk about all these health care infrastructure. It includes the workers and the people. And so, you’re talking about it’s hard when folks don’t treat you for your workers as heroes but it’s harder when they treat you as heroes and then they still say that

 

[Gracie] we are overpaid. Yeah, it’s hard. Yeah.

 

[Bryant] Going back to the to the negotiations and the bargaining what, what are the nuances with the National bargaining, just very broadly, I want folks to understand that on top of the local bargaining, like there is something bigger happening on a national level. Can you talk a little bit about that?

 

[Gracie] Yes, so I’m in the subcommittee for staffing. Also, in national and I can tell you, we’re far from settling. It’s not. Again, it’s not in partnership like Kaiser is, may I say, taking us around. They come, we cannot even, we cannot even come to an agreement. What are we gonna. What are we gonna tackle first because they’re into, like, the process, the procedure the wordings where the meeting ingredients like every single day that we meet and we don’t settle? The department is working short staff. And when you work short staff, the quality of care that you give to the patient. It’s not its full capacity to where a patient can walk away and say wow, I, I came from Kaiser, and you should too. You should go to Kaiser because they do this they do this they give good customer service, you cannot have that and having to live in an island where people. It’s a coconut wireless, people will talk to their neighbor. With that, with the rate that Kaiser is going. We cannot have that personal touch that advertisement from neighbor to neighbor, we cannot, because what they’re, what Kaiser is not giving that access the right tool, and having the right to have adequate staff, that’s the main, main tool that they should provide. Because you see Brian back in the days when Kaiser. I started in all three, that’s the part that’s the time when people didn’t want to come to Kaiser there’ll be like what you go Kaiser. Did you hear, blah blah blah. We had a bad reputation. Then we then the union and labor came together and say how are we going to make this where people want to come to Kaiser, we slowly came, and work things out, and people wanted and our mission that time is caring for her What is people like family. And that’s when people started to come, and we built and we built and we built, and then now, again, they’re going backwards. People don’t want to come in, no more because they have to wait when they, when their family member coffered a call like they have to wait. They have to wait to go use the bathroom because there’s no staff, you have to wait for discharge because there’s no adequate staffing in transport, you have to wait for their medication because there’s long line. Our pharmacy. They’re not adequately staffed too, and I understand all department are not equipped to having adequate police staff, there’s backfill that they never feel. And that’s sad. Because if it wasn’t for our members. There’s no Kaiser. And when I always say, providing the right care for the patient, because it wasn’t for them coming to us. There’s no Kaiser in marijuana law, there’s no Kaiser at Big Island no Kaiser at Maui, cleaning simple, you give what our local people deserve. They’re going to take care of you and that’s the local way.

 

[Bryant] Yeah, I was just thinking while you were sharing that, that, understaffing looks very different. Pre pandemic. I guess maybe that was the normal, and maybe from the company’s perspective, It is something that is manageable, but it’s very different. In this raging pandemic, when health care workers are understaffed and thank you for bringing that to light. What are the next steps that we and the public can look forward to.

 

[Gracie] Well, as you guys know that local 5 is both the, the tourist industry and healthcare. We both work side by side, because when COVID happen. We had nurses stay in the hotel because they were working with a COVID patient. And that’s how hotel had helped the healthcare industry as well. But I’m telling you folks what I’m seeing is that no matter whether it’s the tourists or healthcare. The bigger picture is the greedy industry, the management are working the same way they want to cut and work the workers to the very, work them hard, and provide them very minimum, I just want to encourage everyone to get involved. There’s no for Kaiser, Kaiser employee. We know you guys know that we are going through our negotiation, and we cannot solve, and for our contract overnight. Kaiser is not budging in. They’re not in there dancing around with our proposal when we give solid proof to why adequately staff, and job security is very important not only for us workers but for the community and for the longevity of Kaiser in Hawaii, we gave them solid proof on that. I just encourage all of you guys to get involved, we have lift lead, and letting the community the patient know that what we’re going through get involved with that. We are been sign waving to reopen other clinics, and not only to just reopen because of pandemic to permanently open. We have been signed leaving on the west side, to have Nana’ikeola open, which Kaiser had come out and said, The clinic is permanently closed, which the community is saying no we need health care access that site. And then we also have community Town Hall, where we ask community what is their health care, concern. What are their challenges we want to know because, again, if it wasn’t for our patient, the community that we serve? There’s no US, there is no Kaiser so if there’s challenges, there’s concern to their healthcare access. We want to know, because we want to work with our community, our patient work together and bring it up to higher management to Kaiser, because we want to make their experience, their healthcare experience as awesome as possible, to where they want to tell their friends to come to Kaiser.

 

[Bryant] What is at stake if we did not win, or we did not secure any of these contract wins, specific to Kaiser and broadly to Hawaii so you can talk about the future of the workforce. The future of healthcare access, things like that what’s at stake?

 

[Gracie] The reason why I’m so passionate that for me What’s at stake is my family’s future. Not only because I just say what if I lose my job, they’re my family. There’s bigger picture to that. If I’m not going to secure the right way, how to deal with greedy management or employer, then it will be an ugly picture for my kids to grow up to, if I’m having trouble. The way I think, if I’m already having those challenges with my management now. And if I don’t find the right way. What, how is supposed to be done, it’s gonna be a lot harder for my kids to secure for for them, and the generation to come. That’s what’s in state for me, I would have not come out to do union duty if this is not important to me, Brian, it’s hard because it’s not us workers being greedy of having, a pay increase, and securing retirement and stuff like that. There’s more to that. It’s more of like Kaiser, don’t you want to remain and permanently, um, have your foundation here. Like, we are not causing trouble to just make trouble. We’re causing trouble because we want Kaiser to succeed. We want Kaiser to be in the long haul because Kaiser is a great company.

 

[Bryant] What do you envision in your future, especially for your kids and your family, just if you look to the best future that you can envision in connection to what we’re doing right now, like how do you how do you see it.

 

[Gracie] I hope Kaiser, wake up and gave us properly staff. What I mean is the patient ratio should be. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out, one, one nurses say 230 patients. That’s hardcore Kaiser should take should take it seriously I look up, that it’s not only making money, it’s important. It’s taking care of the people that provide that financial growth.

 

[Bryant] Yes, most definitely. Thank you so much for the time, Gracie and also temporarily. Thank you for the vulnerability and for sharing your stories. I hope this provided a much better understanding of our campaign in the healthcare industry, and these are the workers who we called Heroes over the last year and a half so we need to stand in solidarity with them as they fight for job security for better staffing and overall for the better future of have a. Thank you so much for tuning in more episodes to come, so follow us on Spotify Apple Music and all the other podcast channels in Hawaii, and also our social media platforms at Unite Here Hawaii for more Hawaii can.

 

 

Pharmacy Technician training program for Local 5 members & family

Aloha, Oahu Local 5 members and family members! As part of Banquet Solutions Hawaii and HARIETT’s on-going efforts to assist Local 5 members and family that have been negatively impacted (unemployed and under employed) by the pandemic, we are partnering with Leeward Community College to offer a Pharmacy Technician training program.

The program is free for unemployed and underemployed Local 5 members and family members. It will include a 120 hour paid internship with the possibility of employment after. Classes will be on-line, with a once a week in-person class. You must have 11th grade reading and math and be able to use computers. If interested, TEXT James Hardway at 808-282-7859 or e-mail Jillian Yasutake at [email protected] Space is limited. Classes start on September 17.

Click here for PDF flyer.

Email our state leaders: what’s your plan to help workers?

Labor Day is supposed to commemorate workers and the American labor movement. Yet on this day, PEUC benefits will expire for thousands of Hawaii workers who are still furloughed and will now receive hundreds of dollars less per week from unemployment.

The State of Hawaii knew these benefits would expire. They also allowed the eviction moratorium to expire. What is the state’s plan to help workers?

As COVID cases spike and hotel occupancy drops, many workers are back on unemployment. Many more have not been called back to work since March 2020. Employers have done little to take care of their workers since the start of the pandemic.

In the hospitality industry, only 67% of Local 5 members are back to work. The hotel industry is cutting guest services so that fewer workers return to work.

In the healthcare industry, Kaiser Permanente is proposing a destructive wage system and ignoring short staffing issues, after announcing earlier this year that they are outsourcing dozens of local jobs to the mainland and attempting to shut down departments in Wailuku clinic last year.

Fill out the form below to send an email to Governor David Ige, Speaker of the House Scott Saiki, and Senate President Ron Kouchi. Tell them: fund additional unemployment benefits, and release a detailed plan on how the State will take care of workers—especially as COVID cases increase, hotel occupancy plummets, and employers use the pandemic to cut jobs.

  • Please do not give someone else’s email address and do not give an email address supplied by your employer.
  • **NOTICE: By giving your information, you understand that you are opting into receiving text messages from UNITE HERE Local 5. Standard data & msg rates apply.

Labor Day 2021 Livestream Event


Click here for our Facebook Live Event

Join us on Facebook Live to commemorate Labor Day with hospitality and healthcare workers.
We are coming together to celebrate being Hawaii’s Best Union six years in a row. In addition, we want to push state lawmakers and employers to take care of workers—especially as COVID cases increase, hotel occupancy plummets, and employers continue to use the pandemic to cut jobs.

Modern Honolulu housekeepers delegate to bring back daily room cleaning

Modern Honolulu housekeeping leaders delegated the general manager yesterday to demand the return of daily housekeeping service and improvements on working conditions and scheduling. We will go back next week for answers! #UnionAdvantage