LANDOVER, Md. (September 26, 2023) – Today, a group of Kaiser Permanente rehabilitation therapists announced plans to hold a strike authorization vote on Monday, October 2.
The group of approximately 80 therapists at a dozen facilities in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia unionized in April and have been negotiating their first collective bargaining agreement since then. They are members of United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), represented by UFCW Local 400 in the DMV area and UFCW Local 27 in the Baltimore region. In addition to these therapists, both local unions represent approximately 2,000 other healthcare workers at Kaiser as well.
The strike vote comes after months of stalled contract talks with Kaiser Permanente representatives, who the union has accused of slow-walking negotiations. The company canceled three scheduled bargaining sessions and took more than a month to provide responses to the union’s proposals. In March, the union filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against the company over its failure to bargain in good faith and provide information to union negotiators, in violation of federal law. In the latest bargaining update to members announcing the strike vote, the union described both parties as “far apart on key issues” including wages and retirement benefits.
If the strike authorization is approved and the union calls for a work stoppage, it could spread well beyond the 80 workers voting on Monday. An additional 2,000 other health care professionals in the region represented by both unions could also walk off the job in what’s known as a “sympathy strike,” because their union contracts allow them to honor picket lines in the event other workers are on strike.
On top of that, Monday’s vote comes only days before 75,000 other unionized Kaiser Permanente health care workers will hold a three-day strike that organizers claim will be the largest healthcare worker strike in U.S. history.
The vote will take place electronically and requires two-thirds of participants to approve the strike authorization. If the authorization is approved, workers will not go on strike right away but the union bargaining committee will be granted the authority to call a strike of the membership at a time of its choosing.
United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 is led by President Mark Federici and represents 35,000 members working in the grocery, retail, health care, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. www.ufcw400.org
United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 27 represents more than 20,000 hard-working men and women in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia in grocery and retail, pharmacy, food processing, chemical processing, meatpacking, manufacturing, cannabis, gaming, and public sectors. www.ufcw27.org