Talks Stall as Strike Nears for 18,000 Kaiser RNs
Kaiser Walkout for Improved Patient Care Kicks Off Day of Action for Ebola, Patient Safety Standards in 16 States, DC
With strikes and other protest actions fast approaching, talks between registered nurses and one of the nation’s biggest hospital and insurance chains Kaiser Permanente stalled Thursday setting the stage for a strike by 18,000 Kaiser RNs Tuesday November 11 kicking off a historic international day of actions on Wednesday, November 12.
National Nurses United and its affiliate members, including the California Nurses Association are sponsoring the U.S. actions from California to Maine, joined by several affiliates of Global Nurses United.
“The failure to properly meet the optimal safety protections for Ebola, speaks volumes to the erosion of patient care standards in the U.S. generally,” said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of both NNU and CNA.
At Kaiser, the RNs and Nurse Practitioners have pushed the HMO giant for months to reverse the erosion of patient care standards, which are now also symbolized by the failure of Kaiser to adopt optimal protections for confronting the virulent Ebola virus.
In negotiations earlier today (Thursday), Kaiser continued to stonewall on dozens of proposals to improve patient care standards, as well as refusing to address the concern of Kaiser RNs about Ebola safety protocols and protective equipment, refusing to even answer questions by the RNs Thursday in negotiations.
While the RNs pressed Kaiser to take seriously the eroding patient care conditions, Kaiser responded by attacking the nurses for having an unstated “political agenda” while Kaiser hospitals continue to cut services and reduce access to care for Kaiser patients
“For a healthcare corporation to consider fighting for patient safety standards a political agenda is disgraceful,” said Zenei Cortez, RN, a co-president of CNA who chairs the Kaiser RN negotiating team.
“Kaiser needs to be at the bargaining table 24/7 to take the steps that are right to assure the highest level of safety for both Kaiser patients and nurses,” DeMoro said.
On patient care issues, Kaiser RNs have cited cuts in hospital services at a number of Kaiser hospitals, sharp restrictions on admitting patients for hospital care or early discharge of patients who still need hospitalization.
"In our Emergency Department,” said Kaiser Redwood City RN Sheila Rowe today, “we are holding patients who should be admitted to the hospital. These elderly patients are kept on uncomfortable gurneys for many hours, unable to rest or sleep because of the noise and influx of patients."
Over the past three years, Kaiser has failed to fill 2,000 open positions of RNs, especially in their hospitals, and nurse practitioners needed to provide primary care services.
On Ebola, the RNs are demanding Kaiser meet the same safety precautions in personal protective equipment and training that NNU is insisting all hospitals meet throughout the U.S.
That includes full-body hazmat suits that meet the American Society for Testing and Materials F1670 standard for blood penetration, F1671 standard for viral penetration, and that leave no skin exposed or unprotected, and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-approved powered air purifying respirators.
In additional to a walkout at Kaiser, tens of thousands of other RNs will hold a variety of actions, including strikes, pickets, candlelight vigils, and rallies in at least 16 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, the Philippines, and several other locales. In addition to Kaiser, nurses will also strike on November 12 at Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C., and two other California hospitals.
In addition to the Kaiser and Providence strikes, Ebola actions November 12 are currently scheduled for Augusta, Ga., Bar Harbor, Me., Boston, Chicago, Durham, N.C., El Paso, Tx., Houston, Kansas City, Lake City, Va., Las Vegas, Lansing, Mi., Massilon, Oh., Memphis, Miami, St. Louis, New York, St. Paul, Mn., Tampa, Fl., and Washington DC, as well as a number of other California locations.