About 50 Kaiser Permanente-Fresno mental health workers could go on strike Monday, joining about 1,400 Northern California Kaiser workers who are alleging the health system is understaffed, among other issues.
Kimberly Hollingsworth, a Kaiser-Fresno marriage and family therapist and a steward in the National Union of Healthcare Workers, said the strike is open-ended but could last up to a month.
The union and Kaiser have been in negotiations for nearly five years without an agreement.
5The number of years Kaiser Permanente mental health workers have been without a contract.
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Union officials say Kaiser is understaffed and that mental health patients wait too long for an appointment. Kaiser denies the allegations.
A Kaiser official said all of the medical centers, including the one in Fresno, will remain open Monday and throughout the duration of the strike.
“Anyone in need of urgent mental health care will receive the services they require,” said Gay Westfall, Kaiser Permanente senior vice president of human resources.
“Mental health care will be provided for our members by skilled physicians and clinical managers, as well as by contracted high-quality mental health professionals in the community,” Westfall said.
Any member affected by the strike will receive a personal phone call, and their individual needs for coverage during the strike will be discussed by a clinical manager or doctor, she said.
But Kaiser may have to “cancel some nonurgent appointments over the next few weeks as we evaluate our staffing levels and make appropriate adjustments to ensure our members’ continued care,” Westfall said.