Thousands of Kaiser Permanente mental health workers across the state are on strike demanding better patient care.
Kaiser Permanente is the largest health care provider in the state, but Monday about 4,000 mental health professionals walked out on the job after contract negotiations with the National Union of Healthcare Workers broke down.
Kenneth Rogers, the vice president of the union and a clinical psychologist for more than 15 years, says he's hoping the strike will bring Kaiser back to the table so patients can get the care they deserve.
"It's really been a disappointing experience to explain the needs we have for patients at the clinic," Rogers said.
In a statement, Kaiser Permanente Northern California Chief Nurse Executive Michelle Gaskill-Hames said, "It’s particularly disheartening that union leadership would call this strike during the holiday season, when many of our patients with mental health needs may be at their most vulnerable."
According to Gaskill-Hames, the health care provider has increased staff by 30 percent since 2015 and invested $175 million to expand and improve its mental health care offices.
"Kaiser Permanente is the highest paying employer for mental health workers in California. The union is demanding wage increases that would be even higher," Gaskill-Hames said.
Kaiser Chief officials noted that all hospital and medical offices will be open, but some non-urgent services will be postponed.