WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Friday, along with seven of his Senate colleagues, sent a letter to Kaiser Permanente Chair and CEO Greg Adams in support of the more than 30,000 nurses and health care workers planning to strike unless negotiations for a fair contract improve. The strike is set to take place November 15 with workers at health care facilities in California, Colorado, Washington D.C., Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington.
“These workers have been on the frontlines in our fight against COVID-19,” wrote the senators. “They risked their lives to save patients – showing up to work despite not being provided basic protective equipment. We’ve been told that some were even forced to sleep in their cars and hotels to protect their families. These employees are heroes and heroines and should be treated as such. Sadly, you have taken another approach.”
Sanders and his colleagues, Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), urgently reminded Adams that this strike comes after Kaiser health care workers and their families have been on the frontlines of this terrible pandemic – putting themselves and their loved ones at risk, working longer hours and in worse conditions – all while the company and its leadership raked in record corporate profits.
The senators wrote, “Mr. Adams: During the peak of the global pandemic, in 2020, your company made $2.2 billion in operating profits. Let’s be clear. Those company profits did not occur by accident. They occurred because your employees were on the job, working tirelessly in the midst of a life- threatening pandemic. Now, at a time when Kaiser is sitting on $44.5 billion in cash reserves and your insured membership has grown to 12.5 million, the company wishes to diminish the safety, security, and wellbeing of its workers, rather than improve them. That’s just not right. Your employees deserve better.”
The Kaiser strike comes amidst a wave of worker protests across industries and states, including at least 185 strikes at 255 locations this year. Sanders also recently led a letter of support, along with six of his Senate colleagues, for the Kellogg workers striking in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Tennessee.
Read the full Kaiser letter here.