Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers across the state will be holding protests demanding recognition and support during the pandemic.
Kaiser workers recently saw their performance sharing bonuses slashed, despite the healthcare organization making a reported $6.4 billion in profits during the last year. Many caregivers are reporting emotional fatigue and burnout after working through the pandemic, and are asking employers for additional support and to provide incentives to encourage employees to stay at work.
"There's a disconnect between the thinking of Kaiser executives and the experience of frontline workers," says Donna Norton, licensed vocational nurse at Kaiser Vacaville. "Workplace exposures have kept us home, as has the traumatic toll of working through this pandemic. So many caregivers have been physically exhausted from taking on extra shifts week after week and are mentally worn down. We need extra support from our employer right now, not less.”
A picket will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday, March 18, at Roseville Medical Center. Protests will continue throughout March and April at different locations statewide.
Statement by Arlene Peasnall, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Kaiser Permanente:
"This past year was unprecedented in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenge it created for many communities and the health care industry, including Kaiser Permanente and of course our employees. We are deeply appreciative of the extraordinary commitment and dedication of all Kaiser Permanente employees throughout our response to the pandemic, especially those who have been serving on the front-line fight of this deadly virus. Together, we’ve done everything we could to protect our teams and provide safe and effective care to our members.
At the very outset of the pandemic, Kaiser Permanente followed the science, CDC guidelines, and the expertise of our internal infectious disease leaders to ensure we were protecting our teams and providing safe and effective care to our members. We secured hard-to-find PPE, brought in additional staffing, and built out new testing facilities and equipment. Much of this we did in collaboration with our labor leaders and partners.
Over the past year we provided $375 million in employee assistance to ensure that frontline employees had access to alternate housing options, special childcare grants, and two full weeks of additional paid leave for COVID-19 illness and exposure. In addition, our represented employees have received step wage increases and guaranteed annual wage increases. We thank each and every one of our employees for helping to deliver on our mission of providing high-quality, affordable health care.
The union’s claims that we penalized them for not achieving attendance goals is simply false. Late last fall, labor and management leaders recognized that year-end performance bonus programs for union-represented employees could be a challenge to achieve in the pandemic. Some unions advocated for a "hero bonus”. Working collaboratively with the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, the Alliance of Health Care Unions and others, we chose to guarantee all eligible, represented employees a minimum of a 100% payout of their performance sharing bonus payment."