4,000 Kaiser mental health clinic workers launch 5-day strike in California

"Rather, in addition to seeking even higher wages and benefits, the union is demanding changes to performance standards that would reduce, not increase, the availability of mental health care for our patients", said Michelle Gaskill-Hames, chief nurse executive for Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

Fielder said Kaiser Permanent has added more than 500 mental health care therapists and invested $175 million to expand mental health care offices since 2015, when the threat of an open-ended strike was averted after the union and Kaiser agreed to a contract.

Psychologists, therapists, social workers, psychiatric nurses and addiction medicine specialists will be among 4,000 clinicians on picket lines at several locations around the state, including at Kaiser's San Francisco Medical Center and the San Jose Medical Center, said union spokesman Matt Artz.

"We are disappointed the leadership of the National Union of Healthcare Workers would ask our highly valued mental health staff to go out on strike, when we've been in active negotiations since the summer, having met in 16 bargaining sessions over five months, and with two more bargaining sessions scheduled for next week", he told Becker's last month.

Rosselli said patients have to wait a month or more for follow-up appointments because of inadequate staffing.

The union also contends the ratio of mental health clinicians to Kaiser members hasn't changed since 2015.

Pelosi, foes seem near deal likely paving her way to speaker
Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), publicly expressed her support on Wednesday after the decision. "She's not negotiating for me", he said. The term limits would not extend to committee chairmen, a proposal that has been deeply controversial among House Democrats .

As a result, mental health care appointments during the week may be canceled, but the union's president says the strike is in the long-term best interest of patients, who now have to wait a month or more for follow-up mental health appointments due to low staffing levels.

"Evidence-based practice shows you need more frequent and regular visits to get to the point where you can sustain recovery from conditions like depression and anxiety", Land-Ariizumi said.

Kaiser representatives on Saturday maintained the union's stance at the bargaining table was not about improving care and access for patients.

"The situation inside Kaiser clinics has become untenable", said Kenneth Rogers, a psychologist for Oakland, Calif. -based Kaiser.

The union's contract with Kaiser lapsed in October, allowing its members to strike. "We're asking to be treated fairly and equally", Land-Ariizumi said.

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