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Kaiser mental health workers strike today to protest understaffing in Bay Area hospitals

When Greta Christina heard that Kaiser Permanente mental health clinicians were staging a protest over long wait times for therapy, she made her own sign and showed up to support them. She's had to wait up to six weeks between therapy appointments for her depression.
Ingrid Nelson
When Greta Christina heard that Kaiser Permanente mental health clinicians were staging a protest over long wait times for therapy, she made her own sign and showed up to support them. She's had to wait up to six weeks between therapy appointments for her depression.

Last weekend, therapists, social workers, and substance abuse counselors held negotiations with the healthcare company.

The union representing Kaiser mental healthcare employees says their attempts to reach an agreement have been unsuccessful.

Mental health workers accepted a wage increase from management, but according to a statement released by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, Kaiser rejected the union’s proposal to hire more staff.

Employees stood at the picket lines until 2:00 p.m. Monday and stated the strike is “open-ended.” It is unclear when Kaiser and its healthcare union will resume negotiations.

In a grievance filed last week, the union claims that Kaiser has been illegally canceling thousands of appointments leading up to the walkout.

California state law requires health care providers, including Kaiser, pay for out-of-network services – if patients are otherwise unable to schedule urgent mental health appointments within 48 hours. The law also applies to non-urgent appointments that take more than 10 business days to book.

Sydney Fishman is in the 2022 KALW News Summer Training Program. She is a producer for Crosscurrents.