The International Union of Operating Engineers – Local 39 Stationary Engineers has been on strike since September 18 at Kaiser Permanente Northern California facilities. Over 700 stationary engineers and biomed technicians are participating in the strike, demanding the healthcare giant pay them wages that keep up with the cost of living.
While Kaiser is only offering the engineers a 2% wage increase, inflation in the Bay Area is nearly double that amount, at 3.7%. So these workers are essentially being offered a wage cut! Kaiser is also supplementing these wage increases with bonuses that don’t accrue into base pay, which is just a sneaky way to keep down wages in the long run.
But as one striker said, “We keep the lights on, and the machines running, and air circulating in the building. What we do is important.” The work these engineers do is essential to the functioning of a hospital, and they know it. Plus, Kaiser has made $3 billion in profit just in the second quarter of this year, so the money is there.
These workers are right to go out on strike for the wages they deserve. After all, you won’t get a better contract unless you fight for it!