Press Release for May 15, 2021
Bryant de Venecia
Kaiser Permanente workers push to reopen Nanaikeola Clinic, protest outsourcing of local jobs to California
Dozens of health care workers protest company’s decision to outsource 57 positions out of Hawaii and urge Kaiser to reopen Nanaikeola clinic for the community of West Oahu
For photos and interview videos, CLICK HERE
(Honolulu, HI) – UNITE HERE Local 5 members sign-waved to protest the job cuts announced by Kaiser Permanente. The company plans to outsource between 42 to 57 positions from its Patient Financial Services department to California.
Maureen Yearian, a Patient Financial Services representative with Kaiser for 15 years shared, “We are fighting not to lose our jobs. It has been very stressful for me—I’ve been losing weight and I’ve sought the help of Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for my mental health. It was back to back for us fearing COVID, worrying about our families, and now we’re about to lose our jobs.” She added that this announcement by Kaiser threatens her retirement plans on top of her livelihood.
Workers are also pushing to reopen the Kaiser Permanente Nanaikeola Clinic. The facility closed temporarily in March 2020 due to the pandemic, but Kaiser has not committed to reopen the facility and restore services. The clinic’s closure worsens the already challenging access to health care that West Oahu residents face.
Tylette Hun, a Waianae resident said, “This is an equity issue. Ever since Kaiser closed the Nanaikeola clinic, people have to drive from Waianae all the way to Kapolei. What about the people who have to take the bus or the Handivan? It’s already difficult for our community to access health care. Kaiser needs to reopen the Nanaikeola clinic and restore needed services to our community.”
The Union rejects Kaiser Permanente’s claim of financial woes as the reason for the decision to cut jobs and close down facilities. Kaiser turned down $500 million federal CARES Act money in 2020. The organization also boasted notable profit in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. UNITE HERE Local 5 believes that outsourcing Hawaii’s health care jobs are an unwarranted attack on Hawaii’s workforce.
The collective bargaining agreement between Kaiser Permanente and UNITE HERE Local 5 is set to expire on September 30, 2021. The Union fully intends to secure stronger job security provisions in the next contract to protect health care jobs in Hawai’i.
Local 5 represents approximately 12,000 workers throughout Hawaii who work in the hospitality, health care and food service industries and is an affiliate of UNITE HERE, an international union that represents over 300,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit www.unitehere5.org.
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