Kaiser workers strike to save jobs
• Photo gallery: Kaiser employees picket over loss of pharmacy work
Unionized workers at Kaiser Permanente's Honolulu Clinic are fighting the health maintenance organization's plans to do away with mail-order pharmacy work conducted here by having a sister operation in Colorado take over the task.
UNITE HERE Local 5 members yesterday protested the action with a one-day strike at the Pensacola Street facility, saying they are trying to prevent Kaiser from shipping work done by 18 people to the Mainland.
"In these economic times, we have to keep jobs in Hawai'i and not ship them off to the Mainland," said Dona Clamucha, a Kaiser pharmacy cashier.
Kaiser said none of the workers will lose their jobs, and that they will be given new responsibilities.
"These 18 positions will be retained," Kaiser spokeswoman Lynne Kenton said.
Local 5 said the limited-duration strike is the outgrowth of an unfair-labor- practice charge filed at the National Labor Relations Board "for trying to implement the subcontracting of union work."
Local 5 spokesman Cade Watanabe said the union has not received any written assurances that the workers would be retained, and that it remains concerned the state is losing 18 jobs.
Kaiser said it bases decisions on a goal of strengthening care and outcomes for members, and that the health care industry needs to meet challenges by making changes to the way it operates.
It said that when changes affect workers, they are retrained and redeployed whenever possible.
The strike occurred after months of contract talks between the two sides.
Kaiser said it has asked a federal mediator join the talks, and that one of the issues being discussed involves job security.