UNITEHERE! Local 5
Press Release for October 20, 2021
Bryant de Venecia
Cell Phone: (808) 546-0024
Kaiser Permanente workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize strike with 93% YES votes
(Hawaii) – Workers across the country are saying “enough is enough!” Nearly 2,000 UNITE HERE Local 5 members at Kaiser Permanente join 40,000 health care workers across the nation who are fired up—voting to authorize a strike with 93% YES votes.
After a year of negotiations, Kaiser Permanente did not move on most of the union’s proposal, instead offered a measly 1% pay increase across the board and an insulting two-tier wage system that would threaten to cut 26-33% of wages for future hires. The company is also ignoring the staffing concerns that pervade all Kaiser Permanente facilities across the nation. UNITE HERE Local 5 and the Alliance of Healthcare Unions maintain that a two-tier wage proposal would exacerbate the already-existing crisis in staffing and worker shortages. Health care workers are reporting exhaustion and burn-out as they continue to provide patient care while COVID-19 surges.
Hollie Sili, an ER Tech at Kaiser Permanente Moanalua shared, “They called us “heroes” throughout this pandemic; now that it’s time for a new contract, the company is telling us we’re only worth a 1% increase. This is insulting to all health care workers considering how much we have sacrificed. Kaiser is saying “don’t walk away from your patients.” I’m not walking away from anyone; in fact, I carry my patients with me. We’re fighting for what we deserve.”
Kaiser Permanente is worth over $42 billion and has amassed a fortune of $44.5 billion in cash reserves. In 2020, the company made $2.2 billion in profits, while frontline health care workers risked their lives in the pandemic and the country faced a historic economic crisis. Kaiser Permanente did so well despite COVID-19 that they rejected $500 million in federal CARES Act money to support its operations. Membership grew by 17% nationally since 2015; 5% in Hawaii alone.
Flor Malano, a Cardiac Monitor Technician at Kaiser Moanalua shared, ““It is egregious to have to choose between patient care and taking care of the workers who provide that care. We should do both—and our fight does that. Our goal is to be the best place to work and that will lead to the best care for our patients. We will be proud of what Kaiser becomes when we win.”
UNITE HERE Local 5 represents roughly 2,000 workers at Kaiser Permanente. Local 5 is a part of the Alliance of Health Care Unions, which represents over 50,000 members across hundreds of job classifications in nearly every geographic area where Kaiser Permanente has a presence. This latest strike authorization from Local 5 is an addition to 30,000 health care workers who already voted to strike against Kaiser Permanente, and 10,000 more who are voting at the end of October.
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 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit www.unitehere5.org.
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