Kaiser employees plan to protest benefit cuts and low staffing - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Kaiser employees plan to protest benefit cuts and low staffing

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - About 200 employees of Kaiser Permanente plan to walk off the job this week to protest proposed benefit cuts and low staffing levels, a union official said Tuesday.

Audiologists, dieticians, health educators, social workers, speech pathologists and mental health therapists are scheduled to picket Wednesday at the Kaiser Hospital in San Diego, according to Leighton Woodhouse of the National Union of Healthcare Workers.

He said the employees are scheduled to return to work Friday.

The NUHW and Kaiser have been negotiating for 1 1/2 years in Southern California with no movement toward resolution, according to Woodhouse.

The sticking points are proposed lower retirement and health benefits, which come at a time when the company is making record profits, he said.

"We see no economic justification for it," Woodhouse said.

Woodhouse said the mental health workers are also trying to get staffing levels increased because patients are having to wait five or six weeks for appointments, and are then directed to group therapy sessions that may not be appropriate for their case.

The same workers staged a one-day walkout in May, and KP officials said the impact on care was minimal.

A message to the company seeking comment was not immediately returned.

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