Kaiser Richmond mental healthcare workers to take part in weeklong strike

Strike at Kaiser Richmond called off due to tentative contract agreement

About 2600 Kaiser Permanente mental health clinicians — including those at the Richmond hospital — plan to hold a weeklong, statewide strike starting Monday.

Clement Papazian, a clinical social worker at Kaiser in Oakland and local chapter president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, told the Richmond Standard he estimates between 30 to 40 therapists from Kaiser Richmond will walk off the job.

A statement from Kaiser representative Gay Westfall said there are contingency plans in place in case the strike happens, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

The mental health workers, including psychologists, therapists, and social workers, say they will protest Kaiser’s “chronic failure to provide its members with timely, quality mental health care.” They charge the hospital with understaffing its mental health care departments even before a large influx of new patients began streaming in due to the Affordable Healthcare Act. The union also pointed out the healthcare provider was fined by the state last year for delays in care.

The union said it plans to hold 65 picket lines at more than 35 locations throughout the state during the weeklong strike.

Kaiser is calling the union’s planned strike an “irresponsible” attempt to disparage the health care provider amid contract negotiations.

“In Northern California, we just returned to the bargaining table earlier this month after a six-month hiatus,” Westfall’s statement said, according to the Press Democrat. “It is troubling that following just one bargaining session — and before we have even have had the chance to meet again — the union has announced a weeklong strike.”