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Kaiser Permanente IT workers to stage protest over patient safety

Staff accuse Kaiser of putting patients and data at risk by stalling contract negotiations.

Bernie Monegain, Editor, Healthcare IT News

Kaiser building in Oakland, California. Photo via&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank" title="en:User:Coolcaesar">Coolcaesar</a>Kaiser building in Oakland, California. Photo via Coolcaesar

Nearly 150 Kaiser Permanente healthcare IT workers and supporters are gearing up to protest Friday what the workers say is Kaiser's refusal to negotiate a contract with the employees who oversee millions of medical records -- a situation that the protesters argue puts both medical records and patient privacy at risk.

"Kaiser executives have their priorities backwards," Fred Ortega, a Kaiser information technology professional said in a statement. "Instead of trying to retain skilled IT workers who protect patient information and manage the safe transfer of medical records every day, Kaiser is nickel and diming us."

Kaiser did not respond to a request for comment.

The affected 60 information technology workers, who are based in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, voted to join the union in October 2015.

Workers contend Kaiser is stalling contract negotiations by refusing to pay them the going rate in salary and benefits, despite the fact Kaiser has more than $30 billion in reserves.

"As a non-profit charity, Kaiser pays no corporate income or real estate taxes, and receives big taxpayer subsidies through Medicare and Medi-Cal payments," they added. Yet, more than two dozen Kaiser executives each received more than $1 million in compensation in 2015, according to the most recent IRS filing.

The employees have backed the labor union SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West – SEIU-UHW.

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
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