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Kaiser workers to protest in Fresno

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center workers in Fresno plan to picket outside the hospital Thursday to protest plans by the health-care system to eliminate jobs and lay off employees.

About 70 workers in Fresno are among more than 1,350 in Northern California who could lose their jobs, said Pete Janhunen, a spokesman for Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers-West.

Kaiser officials said layoff numbers could not be calculated because they could be reduced by buyouts offered to employees. So far, more than 100 employees in the Northern California region have applied for a voluntary separation plan and more are expected to take the option, the officials said.

The picket in Fresno is the latest in a five-week series of events held by SEIU-UHW members statewide.