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Kaiser workers to rally Wednesday in Woodland Hills, protesting outsourcing

Scores of Kaiser workers plan to rally Wednesday, May 22 in Woodland Hills to protest the company’s plan to outsource jobs and demand affordable health care for all.
The employees, represented by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West , will gather from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center at 5601 DeSoto Ave. It’s one of 33 rallies scheduled at Kaiser facilities across California over the next month, including one June 4 in Panorama City.
The union, which represents more than 55,000 Kaiser workers in California, claims the nonprofit organization is planning to lay off 300 call center employees in Baldwin Park, another 160 in Woodland Hills and 192 more at its Los Angeles Medical Center.
The company plans to move those jobs to Riverside, Fontana and San Diego, the union said, where the positions would pay $2 per hour less.
“This is all pending, but as far as Kaiser is concerned they are moving ahead with it,” SEIU spokesman Sean Wherley said Tuesday. “These people would lose their jobs, unless they moved to one of those other areas.”
In a statement issued Tuesday, Kaiser spokesman John Nelson said Wednesday’s rally won’t impact patient care or operations at the Woodland Hills facility.
“We reiterate our pledge to bargain in good faith and our commitment to reach fair and equitable agreements that provide our employees with excellent, market-competitive benefits and wages,” Nelson said. “We are disappointed that some union leaders are choosing to make false allegations and pursue an adversarial, destructive approach as part of their bargaining strategy.”
Outsourcing other jobs
Kaiser also plans to outsource its pharmacy warehouse operations in several cities to a private, non-union company, Wherley said. That will result in 81 job losses in North Hollywood, 61 in Downey, 55 in Oakland and 39 in Livermore.
Earlier this year, Kaiser said it determined that an external pharmacy storage and distribution network would be the best option to meet current and future needs of its members.
The Woodland Hills employees, whose labor contract is set to expire Sept. 30, say Kaiser is sitting on $31.5 billion in reserves, yet only 8 percent of its patients are covered by Medi-Cal compared to an average of 27 percent at other non-profit hospitals in California.
Micheula Fletchall, a nurse at the Woodland Hills center, said employees feel Kaiser has lost its way.
“We are a patient care-centered company,” the 60-year-old Ventura resident said. “Every one of the employees care a great deal about their patients, but Kaiser doesn’t have transparency like other companies.”

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