Kaiser workers in state vote to strike in October

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Kaiser Permanente workers represented by the Service Employees International Union in California have voted in support of a strike against the health care giant in October.

The move would affect some 1,600 Kaiser workers in Sonoma County who are represented by SEIU’s United Healthcare Workers West union. Across the state, the union represents 57,000 workers.

Union officials said workers voted in favor of a strike to object to staffing shortages and low wages compared to other Kaiser regions. But Kaiser called the threat of a strike a union tactic aimed at getting leverage in current labor negotiations.

SEIU-UHW’s contract ends in October.

Union officials said Kaiser workers in five other states and Washington, D.C., are expected to vote on whether to authorize a strike by September. The union represents more than 80,000 Kaiser workers across the country.

If approved, union officials said the strike would be the country’s largest walkout since 1997.

John Nelson, a Kaiser spokesman, in a statement said the company is offering “solid wage increases,” and that the average salary for SEIU-UHW employees is “already higher than market averages.”

Martin Espinoza

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