Kaiser Mental Health Workers Plan Week-Long Strike

Kaiser hospitals and patients in the Bay Area are bracing for a week-long strike, as more than 2,000 mental health workers are expected to strike Monday.

The National Union of Healthcare Workers is expected to set up picket lines at nearly three dozen Kaiser locations across California. The union is demanding more of a say in the hiring of mental health workers, from psychologists to social workers.

Kaiser said it has enough staff workers to take care of its patients.

"Kaiser has been complaining that there are not enough qualified therapists to hire, but that's simply not true," Kaiser clinical social worker Paul Shaw said. "And if that is the case, then they should be doing their best to retain the ones that are there."

"We've hired hundreds of therapists over the last three years," Kaiser Permanente Vice President of Government Relations John Nelson said. "To make sure we have adequate staffing, we're continuing to hire more. There is a national shortage of mental health care providers, but we're still able to hire folks and make sure we have people here to meet our patients needs."

A spokesman for Kaiser said its campuses will be able to meet their patients' needs and all medical offices will be open during the strike.

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