Tuesday, January 31, 2012

NUHW 24 hour strike: Kaiser Oakland CA

This short clip is from the picket lines at Kaiser hospital in Oakland CA. The National Union of Healthcare Workers have called a 24 hour strike to protest staffing cuts, attacks on their health care benefits and pensions.  The California Nurses Association struck in sympathy although it has a no strike clause in its contract.  Strikers told me that the no strike clause restricts CNA from striking alone during the life of a contract but not in sympathy with others.  This sounds a little unusual and from what they told me, Kaiser is filing some sort of action against it.

Engineers, members of the Stationary Engineers (possibly local 39) were also out on the lines and they told me that there were attacks coming up on their health care benefits and pensions also. It's very good the workers have taken this action, however, it's hard to imagine that a one day strike can accomplish much other than to have workers let of some steam.  Also, as is so often the case as the strategists at the helm of the organized Labor movement do not like to refer to capitalists, or an economic "system" called capitalism, much of the focus is simply on the profits the individual company makes and the exorbitant salaries of the executives like the $9 million in compensation Kaiser CEO Georga Halvorsan makes.

What is a struggle between capital and Labor and capital's rapacious thirst for profits, something that health care should not be concerned with, the issue is sort of personalized; it's simply greed in the abstract and greedy CEO's in particular.

Members of Stationary Engineers 39 supporting NUHW
From what I gathered talking  to the workers today, SEIU was crossing picket lines. I didn't see any there and if so this is a major problem with the Labor movement, or more accurately, the leadership of the Labor movement.  The same situation exists in Longview Washington where the leadership of thre Operating Engineers is having its members cab on the ILWU. As is usually the case between the entrenched bureaucracies of the various Unions, they don't criticize each other.  In the case of Longview, Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO has washed his hands of the matter.  And they tell us that the members need educating.

Take Wall Street, big Pharma and business out of health care.  For a national health care system run by those who use the services and the workers that provide them.

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