Kaiser mental health therapists end 172-day strike in Hawaii

Kaiser Permanente mental health providers reached an agreement with the health system to raise wages and retirement benefits after a nearly six-month strike, Maui Now reported Feb. 19.

Approximately 50 psychologists, social workers, pediatric nurses and chemical dependency counselors started striking Aug. 29.  

Kaiser ratified a three-year contract with the Hawaii mental health providers, with updates including wage increases of at least 3 percent in 2023 and 2024 and 2 percent in 2025, ensuring pension benefits for new hires and an extra $1.50 per hour for bilingual therapists, according to Maui Now.  

"This contract is a lot better than what Kaiser was offering when we started our strike last August, but it is still not enough to address the understaffing crisis that forces Kaiser members to wait months for mental health therapy," Andrea Kumura, a social worker at Kaiser's Waipio Medical Office in Waipahu, Hawaii, and member of the National Union of Healthcare Workers bargaining committee, said in a union news release provided to the news outlet. 

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, MD, proposed a healthcare budget of more than $74 million for fiscal years 2024 and 2025, intended to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates, make care more accessible to residents and improve behavioral health resources. 

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