SACRAMENTO, Calif. — 2,000 mental health workers are expected to be on strike in Northern California by 6 a.m. Monday.
The strike comes after negotiations between the National Union of Health Workers (NUHW) and Kaiser Permanente fell through on Saturday. It includes psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists and chemical dependency counselors in Northern California and the Central Valley.
“We’ve been telling Kaiser executives since Day One that this isn’t about money,” said Jennifer Browning, a licensed clinical social worker for Kaiser in Roseville and a member of the union’s bargaining team. “It’s about our professional integrity and our ability to provide care that will help patients get better.”
Meanwhile, Kaiser Permanente told ABC10 in a statement that they're prepared to return to the bargaining table to reach an agreement.
"This strike is an unnecessary tactic to increase the union’s leverage at the bargaining table making it harder, not easier, to deliver mental health care," said Deb Catsavas, senior vice president of Human Resources at Kaiser Permanente Northern California.
Here's what to know.
Why is there a strike?
Negotiations between the two groups fell through on Saturday, leading to an open-ended strike from the union.
According to the union, a wage offer was accepted but differences arose related to increased staffing and reductions in wait times for mental health therapy appointments.
According to Kaiser, the key issues have been regarding better wages and a union demand "to increase the time therapists spend on tasks other than seeing patients." This includes documentation, planning and other office activities.
What about customers?
Kaiser said patients will get care from mental health workers who "choose patient needs over the strike" and from psychiatrists, clinical managers and other licensed professionals.
"We have also expanded our network of high-quality community providers and will continue to prioritize urgent and emergency care. Some nonurgent appointments may need to be rescheduled. Any patient whose appointment may be affected will be contacted directly prior to the date of the appointment to ensure they receive the care they need," Catsavas said.
Where are the picket lines?
NUHW has picket lines planned for the following locations on Monday.
- Fresno Medical Center
7300 N. Fresno Street
- Sacramento Medical Center
2025 Morse Avenue
- San Francisco Medical Center
2425 Geary Boulevard
- San Jose Medical Center
275 Hospital Parkway