Kaiser Permanente registered nurses and nurse practitioners are holding informational pickets today at medical centers in the Bay Area and statewide to call for increased staffing, among other things.
The pickets are informational only and nurses and nurse practitioners scheduled to work today will report to work as usual, according to the California Nurses Association.
Negotiators from the union are currently in talks with Kaiser officials for a new collective bargaining agreement. The union represents 19,000 Kaiser nurses and nurse practitioners.
The union's proposals include increased RN staffing in hospitals, clinics, call centers and home health and hospice; expanded hands-on training for all nurses; and better patient access to nurse practitioners.
"I have been with Kaiser for 36 years and I have seen a decline in patient care. As nurses leave, they are not replaced," said Zenei Cortez, an RN at South San Francisco Kaiser and co-president of the California Nurses Association.
"In highly specialized areas where training needs to happen, there has been no training," Cortez said.
Before nurses in specialties including operating rooms retire or leave for other jobs, training programs for replacements should begin, she said.
Cortez said several hundred nurses are expected to doinformational pickets at Kaiser's medical center in Oakland today.
Pickets will also take place at Kaiser medical centers in Antioch,
Fremont, Redwood City, Richmond, San Francisco, San Jose, San Leandro, San Rafael, Santa Clara, South San Francisco, Vacaville, Vallejo and Walnut Creek, as well as in other California cities.
The pickets will take place at different times of the day.
A representative of Kaiser management said she was "optimistic" about the negotiations with the union.
"Kaiser Permanente is bargaining in good faith to reach an agreement that supports our nonprofit mission to provide high quality, affordable health care and serves the interests of our nurses. We remain optimistic about reaching a fair agreement," Debora Catsavas, senior vice president of human resources for Kaiser Permanente Northern California, said in a statement.
Catsavas noted that Kaiser Permanente Northern California and the California Nurses Association began bargaining a new contract in mid-July. The current contract expired on Wednesday, she said.
"We respect and value our nurses, who are the best in health care, and are proud that Kaiser Permanente is a recognized leader in health care quality and safety. Our first priority is always the health and safety of our patients and members," Catsavas said.