21,000 strike against Kaiser Permanente health care across California, including 4,000 in Southern California

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Kaiser Permanente Microclinic, Garfield Center 2

Workers at Kaiser Permanente facilities across California will strike for 24 hours beginning Tuesday at 6 a.m. This is not their first walkout, but union leaders say it’ll be the biggest.

Kaiser employees are hitting the picket lines to protest what they say are unfair cuts to worker benefits and chronic understaffing that compromises patient care. About a fifth of those protestors will march in Southern California at Kaiser Sunset, Downey Fontana and Woodland Hills.

The walkouts mark the fourth time Kaiser workers have walked out, since they began negotiating a new contract.

Union leaders say they’re protesting cuts in their health care coverage and retirement benefits during a period of record profits for Kaiser — $5.6 billion over the last three years. The union also points out that Kaiser's CEO, George Halvorson, took home almost $9 million in compensation in 2010, with other top managers making what the union calls "lavish" salaries, bonuses and perks.

"What it all boils down to is Kaiser top executives putting profits before patient care," said Dr. Spencer Gross, a psychologist at Kaiser Pleasanton, in a press release.

Kaiser says all of their facilities will remain open during the work stoppage. They are calling the strike “counterproductive” and say they will continue to bargain in good faith with the union.

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