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Kaiser therapists on strike for 1 month with no end in sight

Kaiser mental health strike
Sabrina Bodon
A Kaiser Permanente mental health strike outside of the Kaiser Honolulu Medical Office included therapists and clinicians with the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

Kaiser Permanente mental health professionals have been on strike for a month.

Therapists are demanding Kaiser’s administration hire more mental health care workers and improve its retention rate with wage increases and better benefits.

They say there are 57 mental health care workers to take care of Kaiser’s 266,000 members across Hawaiʻi. They say Kaiser members sometimes wait one to three months to see their therapist.

Kaiser Permanente says it has hired 25 clinicians in Hawaiʻi since the start of 2021 as part of "a multi-year journey to increase the number of mental health clinicians."

Therapists on strike are represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers. The union is still bargaining with Kaiser’s administration.

Kaiser released the following statement:

"It is unfortunate that NUHW leaders are asking our caring and compassionate mental health employees to walk away from their patients. This is the second time in less than a year that the union has called on our 60 NUHW-represented mental health providers to strike in an attempt to disrupt care and create pressure at the bargaining table."

"Kaiser Permanente is committed to remaining an employer of choice for our mental health professionals. We do this in part by offering market-competitive wages and benefits to attract and retain top-quality employees."

Zoe Dym is a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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