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The Grizzly Gazette

The Grizzly Gazette

A Season of Holidays: A Season of Strikes


On Wednesday, October 4, more than 75,000 Kaiser Permanente workers went on strike, and organized the largest healthcare worker strike in American history. This action occurred in the states of California, Colorado, Oregon, Virginia, Washington state and Washington DC, and the strike was organized to occur for three days. 

“Among the union staff members taking part in the walkout were support staff and other employees, like X-ray technicians, receptionists, medical assistants, sanitation workers who disinfect rooms between patients and pharmacy workers who help dispense medications. These workers attend surgeries, run imaging equipment and assist in hundreds of Kaiser’s hospitals and outpatient clinics,” said The New York Times. Other reports of major setbacks in the medical community brought concern and attention to this massive strike. 

These workers made up 40% of Kaiser Permanente’s workforce. 

All across America, medical workers picketed, and their reason for walking off the job is similar to the union’s orders of other strikes. “…they are overworked and underappreciated. Many expressed frustration that staffing problems prevent them from giving patients the best possible care,” said the Washington Post.

Another reason for the strike is the repercussions of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID – 19). Over the past couple of years, Kaiser Permanente workers said there has been a decrease in employment in their organization. The Washington Post said, “Kaiser officials maintain that health-care providers across the country have struggled to attract and retain workers in recent years — even as the pandemic emergency receded.”

Unfortunately, in light recent years, medical workers have struggled through high stress levels since the start of COVID – 19. Through the struggles of heightened hospitalizations and continuous hours of frontline risk, health care workers across the country have all encountered the turmoil of the pandemic. 

The Washington Post said, “Paula Coleman… said that since the start of covid, she has seen many of her colleagues quit for less stressful and more lucrative jobs, while those who remain see their workloads increase as their wages lose purchasing power with the rising cost of living.” 

The strike ended on October 7, however, there are reports of a potential second strike in planning. 

Ironically, the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) Strike came to a close only a few days before the start of the Kaiser Permanente strike and the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) Strike continued.

This year has been a whirlwind of workforce conflict and a multitude of strikes have occurred. With holidays just around the corner, one can only wonder how many more organizations will face necessary negotiations with their workers.

“More than 445,000 workers have walked off the job this year so far, making it one of the biggest years for strikes since 2000, according to Bloomberg Law’s database of work stoppages,” said the Washington Post. From the months of January to the end of August, 252 strikes have struck a wildfire of change throughout the country. In context, 414 strikes were organized in 2022. 

Although so many have walked off the job in the past two years, Americans have had a more positive outlook on the situation compared to in 2009, where the number of strikes reached a record high. 

Popular strikes this summer have also flared public interests in the various movements, as the Los Angeles (LA) Hotel strike, the WGA strike, the SAG-AFTRA strike, and now the Kaiser Permanente strike all make their mark in history and culture. 

As America prepares for the season of holidays, they also find themselves preparing for the season of strikes; the working class of America prepares for change and rises against the unfair compromises of major companies. 

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