Nurses and other health care professionals who work for Kaiser Permanente in Oregon have voted to authorize a future strike over labor conditions.
The union representing the health care workers announced on Monday morning that almost all 3,400 eligible Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals members backed the strike authorization. The union represents nurses, physicians’ assistants, laboratory technicians and other skilled health care workers, who have been working without a contract since the previous one expired on Sept. 30.
The Oregon local union is coordinating with Kaiser union health care workers in other parts of the country — a workforce of 52,000 people in eight states.
Health care workers say staffing shortages at Kaiser need to be addressed, as well as other contract issues.
In a statement released a week ago before the strike authorization vote, Kaiser administrators said that union members working without a contract was “not unusual,” and that the Kaiser negotiators, “have made progress in many important areas, have extended an initial economic offer and will continue to work collaboratively.”
With the authorization vote completed, union leaders can now call a strike at any time. The union is required to give Kaiser 10 days’ notice before potentially thousands of workers could walk off the job.