August 8 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
I support the Kaiser Permanente mental health clinicians represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) who will be on strike at various locations across Northern California starting on August 15. The over-2,000 unionized psychologists, therapists, chemical dependency counselors and social workers in Northern California are right to demand that the nation’s largest non-profit HMO provide desperately needed mental health services to its patients, and I urge the general public to join their efforts.
Amid the compounding traumas of loss from pandemic deaths, quarantine isolation, and economic uncertainty, mental health services have never been more important to our community. Nevertheless, while reporting a net operating profit and tens of billions of cash in reserves, Kaiser refuses to invest in adequate mental healthcare. According to NUHW, Kaiser staffs approximately one full-time equivalent mental health clinician for every 2,600 members, so patients who should receive therapy every week are waiting months just to start therapy, and up to eight weeks between appointments, violating both state laws and medical best practices. As a Kaiser member and spouse to a unionized psychiatric nurse, these conditions are plainly unacceptable and they put my community in serious danger.
I urge Kaiser Permanente to increase its investments in mental health services, and bargain in good faith with its labor partners.