By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Nearly all of Kaiser Permanente’s nurses and healthcare workers have voted yes to authorize a strike, which has the potential to be the largest strike in nation so far this year.

More than 96% of the more than 18,000 members of the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Healthcare Professionals voted to authorize a strike if necessary. The union represents nearly 21,000 registered nurses, pharmacists, midwives, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals who work for Kaiser.

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Union officials say such a strike would cripple Kaiser Permanente’s operations in Southern California, impacting hospitals, medical centers, and clinics from Anaheim to Woodland Hills.

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The pandemic has been especially hard on healthcare workers, who have been working tirelessly since March of 2020, sometimes without the proper protective equipment and contracting COVID-19 themselves. Throughout the pandemic, nurses protested for proper PPE and in July, hundreds of USC nurses went on strike for two days to protest understaffing.

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The union says they have been in negotiations with Kaiser since April, and that even though hospitals are understaffed, the healthcare company wants to slash the wages of new nurses and healthcare workers. Kaiser says they continue to work toward a contract agreement, and they hope to do so quickly.