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California Kaiser Therapists Threaten To Walk Out

Credit: 10news

Mental health workers strike outside Kaiser Foundation Hospital in San Diego, Jan. 12, 2015.

More than 1,000 mental health clinicians at Kaiser Permanente facilities in Northern California are threatening to go out on strike.

Approximately 1,500 psychologists and other mental health clinicians at Kaiser Permanente facilities in Northern California are threatening to go out on strike.

California regulators fined Kaiser $4 million in 2013 for failing to provide timely mental health treatment. Northern California members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers say things haven't changed.

NUHW chapter President Clement Papazian complained patients still aren’t able to see a provider when they need one.

“It takes a long time to get in, and then once they’re in, it takes a long time to get them back," Papazian said. "And what we know about quality mental health care is it’s extremely dosage dependent.”

Kaiser officials say they’ve hired nearly 500 therapists since 2011, and plan to hire 350 more by the end of this year. But union members say an increase in patients, through Obamacare, has greatly outpaced any increased hiring.

The union and Kaiser have been trying to hammer out a labor agreement for more than four years.

Union clinicians statewide held a five-day strike in January. Kaiser officials claim the union is threatening another walkout to gain an advantage at the bargaining table.

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