One thousand nurses at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center began a one-day strike early Thursday over patient care and staffing levels, their union said Thursday.
California Nurses Association/National Nurses United has been in negotiations with Kaiser Permanente since September for a new contract, the union said. The previous contract expired Sept. 30. Nurses have asked the organization for more supplies, such as syringes and the kits used to start IVs, and to invest more in nurses and ancillary staff, the union said.
Kaiser Permanente is “disappointed” the union is calling on nurses to “walk away from their patients’ bedsides,” the not-for-profit health system said in a statement.
“We hope [the California Nurses Association] will stay at the bargaining table meaningfully working toward an agreement that will allow us to demonstrate our high regard and respect for our nurses,” Kaiser Permanente said.
No bargaining sessions are scheduled, Kaiser Permanente said.
“In the last four months, we have seen 50 nurses leave our hospital due to the poor working conditions that put patient care in jeopardy,” Tinny Abogado, union representative and registered nurse at the medical center for 20 years, said in a news release. “Nurses are leaving because they work 12-hour shifts without a break. They reach for supplies, and they are just not there.”
Violet Galinato, another registered nurse and union representative, said nurses often have to take on the work of certified nursing assistants, food service workers and housekeepers because the hospital doesn’t have enough ancillary staff. “Taking valuable time away from providing care is not fair to our patients,” she said.
Kaiser Permanente said it is filling the vacancies caused by Thursday’s one-day strike with temporary nursing staff and by moving management staff into needed positions. The system said it does not expect the strike to affect scheduled procedures and services.
Unions representing Kaiser Permanente workers have conducted a number of labor actions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic over wages and safety concerns. In November, the company was able to reach a deal with the Alliance of Health Care Unions, a coalition of 21 unions, that avoided strikes by more than 50,000 workers.