Hundreds of workers at Hawaii’s largest health maintenance organization started a six-day strike on Monday.
Members of Unite Here Local 5 started picketing at midnight at the Moanalua Medical Center, union spokeswoman Paola Rodelas said.
The workers, picketing in four-hour shifts, include licensed practical nurses, medical assistants and housekeepers. The strike will continue through Saturday. The union is giving $300 per person from its strike fund to workers who walk the picket lines at least five, four-hour shifts, Rodelas said.
Unite Here Local 5 objects to what it calls a low proposed wage increase and a proposal to eliminate guaranteed pensions for new employees.
“It’s more than just getting a good contract. We want to see improvements to the patient care,” Rodelas said while standing across from Kaiser’s Honolulu Clinic, where dozens of workers were picketing. “We apologize to the patients if there is any inconvenience to them. But this understaffing is a reality that our workers face every day.”
Patients continued to walk in and out of the Honolulu Clinic on Pensacola Street as workers passed out yellow flyers stating Kaiser’s billions of dollars in net income. “Kaiser thrives Why can’t we?,” the flyer said.
This is the first statewide strike for Local 5 Kaiser members since 1986, the union said.
Local 5 also is planning a rally with Kaiser and hotel workers in Waikiki at 4 p.m. on Thursday starting at the Modern Honolulu hotel and ending at the Duke Kahanamoku statue, Rodelas said.
Local 5 represents 1,900 workers at Kaiser in Hawaii. They have been without a contract for two years.Eighty-eight percent of members who cast ballots in a recent vote favored striking.
Kaiser said last week it would close 10 smaller clinics and consolidate operations at larger offices during the strike. It’s rescheduling elective procedures and some appointments that aren’t urgent.
The Kihei clinic on Maui will close. On the Big Island, the Waimea and South Kona clinics will close.
On Oahu, the following clinics will be closed through Saturday: Hawaii Kai, Kahuku, Kailua, Kapolei, Nanaikeola and Pearlridge. Some operations at the Mapunapuna clinic will be closed.
Associated Press contributed to this report.