More than 2,000 Kaiser Permanente mental health workers across the Bay Area and California’s Central Valley plan to go on strike Monday, demanding the health care provider increase staffing and cut wait times for patients who ask for meetings.
Therapists and clinicians plan to participate in San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento and Fresno on Monday and continue in other Bay Area cities later in the week until an agreement is reached, according to a statement from the National Union of Care Workers Health.
The planned strike comes after a bargaining session ended Saturday without an agreement between the health care provider and its Northern California-based psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists and chemical dependency counselors, the union said.
“We have told Kaiser leaders since Day One that this is not about the money,” Jennifer Browning, a licensed clinical social worker for Kaiser in Roseville, said in a statement released by the union. “It’s about our professional integrity and our ability to provide care that will help patients get better.”
The strike comes amid disputes between Kaiser and its therapists over wait times for patients seeking therapy.
While the union said it agreed to a wage offer from Kaiser this weekend, it remained at odds over how to increase staff and improve patient care.
The workers’ union claims that patients have to wait months to start therapy sessions and that many patients also face waiting times of one to two months between therapy appointments. The union also claims the provider is not adequately screening patients at risk of suicide and failing to admit them to innovative outpatient treatment programs as needed.
Kaiser Permanente did not immediately respond to a request for comment from this news organization.
Check back for more as this story develops.