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Strike diverts ambulances from Kaiser
Keep Manteca Safe Committee member Margaret Pigg wears a money vest made by Kaiser registered nurse Ruth Somera to protest what she contends is Kaiser choosing profits over patients. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Ambulances in San Joaquin County can no longer transport patients to the Kaiser Hospitals in Manteca or Modesto due to an ongoing labor dispute and its potential impacts to patient care and safety.

According to a memorandum issued by the San Joaquin County Emergency Medical Services Agency on Monday, patients requiring transportation to a hospital will have to be transported to a different area hospital – even if the patient specifically requests to be taken to either of the two Kaiser hospitals specifically mentioned in the document.

Marissa Mata, the Public Information Officer for the agency that oversees San Joaquin County’s emergency medical services providers, said that the suspension of transportation to both locations will remain in effect until further notice.

While Kaiser Permanente did reach a deal with the Alliance of Health Care Unions on Saturday – which will provide more than 50,000 employees across 22 unions with wage increases and increases to health and retirement benefits – and reached a subsequent tentative agreement with the union that represents the pharmacists employed by the company on Monday, negotiations with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 39 have stalled.

Negotiations between the healthcare giant and the union have been ongoing since September.

In a post to Twitter on Wednesday, Kaiser said that after multiple days of negotiations there was no movement in the talks – accusing the union of requesting twice as much as other unions representing Kaiser employees.

That characterization didn’t prevent thousands of employees of the company – even those not currently involved in negotiations – from staging sympathy strikes at hospitals across Northern California on Thursday. Members of SEIU-UHW, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, and the California Nurses Association showed up in droves on Thursday to show solidarity with Local 39 – which represents the company’s “stationary engineers” – at hospitals across Northern California.

While ambulances in San Joaquin County would be less likely than those in neighboring Stanislaus County to have to deliver patients to the Modesto Kaiser location, the loss of that option in Manteca makes Doctors Hospital of Manteca the only local option for those potentially needing emergency medical care.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email  or call 209.249.3544.