show menu

KBBF interviews Kaiser’s mental healthcare workers on the picket lines

“We are out here sacrificing a lot, our patients are sacrificing a lot, and it’s ultimately to be able to have mental healthcare in our community, in our state, in our country, that is in line with medical care. And that is what people deserve.” This comment is one of many that striking therapists, psychologists, social workers, and drug counselors made to KBBF volunteers Judy Elliott and Dave Janda, from interviews later aired on the station’s “The Broken Record Radio Show.”

Elliott and Janda went straight to the picket lines to hear workers recounting staffing shortages (particularly of bilingual staff) that have led to delays and severe gaps in care. One mental healthcare worker described a shift of working 9:00am to 7:30pm, seeing ten clients for one-hour sessions, and having to forego lunch breaks, bathroom breaks, and the necessary phone calls and emails known as indirect patient care. “Therapists recognize that this is unsustainable. It is not good care for client or for the therapists.”

Kaiser employees observed that these conditions were resulting in people in crisis not receiving the care they required. Janda adds, “They took oaths, basically, to provide a certain level of service. When they can’t do that, it hits their conscience. They saw patients with mental health issues at risk and committing suicide. I would think Kaiser would want to protect themselves from that. As with so much of capitalist industry, they more interested with the bottom line.”

Elliott explains, “This strike differs from most others in that grievances are not around better wages or benefits. Rather, they’re asking for changes that would allow them to adequately serve their clients and also be in compliance with the law.”

A woman on the picket line echoed this observation. “This is what astounds me. Kaiser could put a small amount of their profit towards this and they could leverage the heck out of this. They could market the heck out of truly being a leader in mental healthcare. They have the means to do it and it would be amazing. We would love to partner in making this an extraordinary place to get excellent mental healthcare and truly integrated care. And what an incredible endeavor that would be. And there’s no interest. None. That boggles my mind.”

On Oct. 20, North Bay Jobs with Justice Tweeted that the strike had ended. “After a two-month strike, Kaiser mental healthcare workers with the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) approve a new contract! Inspiring!”

Keep current with KBBF’s “The Broken Record Radio Show,” airing Mondays from 9-11 p.m.

Support KBBF

Thanks to the listening community, KBBF can offer programs and news in multiple languages. Donate monthly or make a one-time contribution at the website. ¡GRACIAS!

We've moved our commenting system to Disqus, a widely used community engagement tool that you may already be using on other websites. If you're a registered Disqus user, your account will work on the Gazette as well. If you'd like to sign up to comment, visit
Show Comment