Healthcare workers protest for fair compensation outside Kaiser in Downey

Healthcare+workers+protest+for+fair+compensation+outside+the+Kaiser+in+Downey+on+March+30%2C+2021.+Union+leaders+from+the+OPEIU+Local+30+and+the+SEIU-UHW+peacefully+protested+for+the+%22Hero%27s+Bonus%22+Kaiser+promised.+

Vincent Medina

Healthcare workers protest for fair compensation outside the Kaiser in Downey on March 30, 2021. Union leaders from the OPEIU Local 30 and the SEIU-UHW peacefully protested for the “Hero’s Bonus” Kaiser promised.

Vincent Medina, Community Editor

Dozens of healthcare workers peacefully protested for fair compensation outside the Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center on National Doctors’ Day.

Unions such as the OPEIU (Office and Professional Employees International Union) Local 30 and the SEIU-UHW (Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers) supported the healthcare workers’ calls for Kaiser to fairly compensate its workers.

The demonstration on March 30 called on Kaiser to pay the doctors and nurses the “Hero Bonus” they were promised at the start of the pandemic.

OPEIU Local 30 CFO Marianne Giordano and Union President Micheal Ramey protested alongside the healthcare workers for fair wages as they marched in front of the medical center.

“These healthcare workers were to be recognized for a ‘Hero’s Bonus.’ Kaiser makes billions of dollars and shorted healthcare workers on their bonus,” said Giordano.

“Right now, we are just trying to bring attention to the public and bring attention to Kaiser leadership,” said President Ramey. “We are aware of how hard they work on the front lines of this pandemic. They are working with COVID patients and extra hours. We want to bring attention to Kaiser and say that we would appreciate being recognized.”

Giordano said that the unions have spoken to Kaiser leadership at the national level to voice their unhappiness with their compensation. Still, Kaiser leaders refused to change their wages.

SEIU-UHW Executive Committee member Gabriel Montoya also participated in the protest and joined the demands for the promised “Hero’s Bonus.”

“OPEIU and SEIU are in one coalition called the CKPU (Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions),” said Montoya. “Kaiser hasn’t reached out to us either. They basically said, ‘You’re getting what you’re getting.’”

“The frustrating thing is that Kaiser made $6.4 billion this year, during a pandemic where the healthcare workers were the backbone of getting Kaiser through the pandemic. Kaiser would not have a discussion about hazard pay at all,” the committee member said.

Ramey also called for the passing of the Health Care Worker Recognition and Retention Act (AB650), which would require healthcare companies to pay bonuses to all non-executive employees who work during the pandemic.

In addition to the march, a caravan of vehicles drove around the Kaiser campus on Bellflower Boulevard to get more public attention for the healthcare worker’s compensation.

As they protested, dozens of patients lined up to receive their COVID-19 vaccine. Protesters explained that they had no intention of intimidating anyone away from receiving the vaccine.

Dwayne Henry waited in line to receive his vaccine as the healthcare workers protested. He explained that he felt no intimidation from the protest to keep him from getting the vaccine.

“They could have been protesting right here, and that would not keep me from getting the vaccine,” Henry said, pointing to the side of the vaccination line.

The CKPU plans to continue to protest outside Kaiser Medical Centers in California until their demands for fair compensation and their “Hero’s Bonus” are met.