Staff of Kaiser go on strike in front of a Kaiser clinic on Geary Street calling for more staffing for mental health services on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. (Lola Chase/ Special to SF Examiner)

Kaiser mental health professionals postpone strike, citing CEO’s death

A planned five-day strike by 4,000 Kaiser Permanente psychologists, mental health therapists and other medical professionals, originally to have started Monday, has been postponed in acknowledgement of the death Sunday of Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson.

After learning of Tyson’s death, 170 member-leaders of the National Union of Healthcare Workers voted to postpone the strike. A new date for the strike has not yet been set.

“We offer our condolences to Bernard’s family, friends and colleagues,” NUHW President Sal Rosselli said in a statement Sunday. “Our members dedicate their lives to helping people through tragedy and trauma, and they understood that a strike would not be appropriate during this period of mourning and reflection.”

The strike, which had been scheduled to go from Monday, Nov. 11 to Friday, Nov. 15, would have shut down mental health services at more than 100 Kaiser clinics and medical facilities from San Diego to Sacramento.

Tyson, 60, died in his sleep early Sunday morning. He had been Kaiser’s CEO since 2013, and had been with the 11.8 million-member health plan for over 30 years.

Rosselli said he had known Tyson since the early 1980s.

“While we had our differences, I had tremendous respect for him and his willingness to collaborate with workers to make Kaiser the model provider of medical services in California,” Rosselli said in the statement.

“We weren’t able to achieve that same level of collaboration when it comes to Kaiser’s mental health services, but I believed that he did want Kaiser to

achieve real parity for mental health care, and I know our members remain fully committed to realizing that goal.”

Kaiser clinicians remain ready to resume negotiations to discuss their proposals for improving access to mental health care and boosting the recruitment and retention of clinicians by securing the same retirement and health benefits Kaiser has agreed to give 140,000 other employees in contracts settled over the past year, the NUHW said in Sunday’s statement.

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