KONA, Hawaii – Things are returning to normal at Kaiser Permanente clinics across the state. The six day Local Five union strike ended on Sunday.
The video above shows what it looked like along the lively picket line in Kona last week.
“They’ve refused to negotiate for 30 months,” said Paulette Chang, a licensed practical nurse at Kaiser’s Kona clinic and union shop steward authorized to speak to media. “Now, if they were really concerned about patient care, having us work for them during this epidemic flu season, then I think they should have at least tried to talk to us before we got this far.”
Chang said the demonstration was about more than low wage increase or elimination of guaranteed pensions for new employees. “There’s forty-six of us in the Union at the Kona clinic,” she said, “not counting the other clinics on the island, and we are a close-knit team. We work together extremely well and we do whatever we can to help Kona look good and to help our patients. Especially to help our patients receive the quality of care that Kona wants us to give to them. But a lot of times we can’t because we’re short staffed. The patient cant have access to appointments ’cause there’s not enough doctors available, not enough appointments available to get them in in a timely manner. So we’re not only out here for our own selves, we’re out here because we need to finally make a statement about the quality of care that Kaiser is giving to our community.”
The Local Five strikes were statewide, and lasted from 12:01 a.m. Monday to midnight Saturday/Sunday. Big Island Video News filmed the strike in Hilo early in the week.
The two sides are returning to the bargaining table on Feb. 18th.