More than 2,000 Kaiser Permanente mental health workers in the Bay Area and California’s Central Valley plan to strike Monday, demanding the health care provider increase staffing and reduce wait times for patients seeking appointments.
Therapists and clinics plan to picket San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento and Fresno on Monday and continue in other Bay Area cities throughout the week until an agreement is reached, according to a statement from the National Health Care Workers Union.
The proposed strike comes after a bargaining session between the health care provider and Northern California psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists and chemical dependency counselors ended without an agreement, the union said.
“We’ve been telling Kaiser executives from day one that this is not money,” Jennifer Browning, a licensed clinical social worker at Kaiser in Roseville, said in a statement released by the union. It’s about our professional integrity and ability to provide care that helps patients get better.
The strike comes amid a dispute between Kaiser and its medical staff over patients waiting for therapy.
While the union said it agreed to a salary offer from Kaiser this weekend, it remains at loggerheads over how to increase staffing and improve patient care.
The union said patients had to wait months to start treatment sessions, and many patients faced one to two month waits between treatment appointments. The union also said the provider is not adequately screening patients at risk of suicide, and is not providing access to innovative outpatient treatment programs as needed.
Kaiser Permanente did not immediately respond to this news organization’s request for comment.
Watch for more information as this story develops.