Health Care Services

California pharmacists' strike threatens millions


Some 1,400 Kaiser Permanente pharmacists are threatening to go on strike Monday, an event that could inconvenience nearly 4 million people insured by the health-care provider.

The Orange County Register reported Thursday that Kaiser Permanente urged members to fill their prescriptions as soon as possible. The health-care provider has 3.7 million insured members in Southern California,

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Kaiser said it may be forced to shutter most of its pharmacies in Southern California, but its medical facilities will remain open if the strike occurs. Officials have also made arrangements with seven outside pharmacy chains to provide services to its patients if needed.

The Guild for Professional Pharmacists, which represents the pharmacists, is demanding the restoration of a pension plan the employees lost three years ago, as well as health benefits for part-time workers and changes to work procedures that they say compromise patient safety.

The guild has scheduled a bargaining session for Friday and said the workers will picket starting Monday if their demands are not met. There is no end date set for the strike.

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A Kaiser spokesperson said, "We must balance the desires of the pharmacists with the need to keep health care affordable for our members." Adding that the firm is hopeful that it will reach a fair agreement.

Kaiser has more than 9 million members across the country and was named among the "150 Great Places to Work in Health Care" by Becker's Hospital Review earlier this month.

Click here to read the full report from the Orange County Register.