By Doug Porter
Protesting what they’re calling systematic under-staffing, 2,600 psychologists, therapists and social workers have called a week-long strike at Kaiser Permanente medical centers.
Organized by the National Union of Health Workers (NUHW), there are 65 picket lines in 35 California cities in responding to failed negotiations with the company.
Back in September, Kaiser agreed to a $4-million fine levied by state regulators. The Department of Managed Health Care found patients had excessively long wait times to get a therapy appointment, or were shuttled into groups when they wanted individual therapy.
Jim Clifford, a union member and San Diego psychiatric therapist told the Associated Press said some patients have to wait up to two months for follow-up appointments, which prolongs the recovery process.
“Kaiser purports to be the leader in health care, but it’s continuing the history of discrimination against the mentally ill, and that’s unacceptable to us,” said Clifford, who has been with Kaiser for 13 years.
An influx of new patients who joined Kaiser after the Affordable Care Act when into effect in 2014 has made a bad staffing situation worse, workers say. Many of those patients previously had no insurance and have many mental health issues requiring more intense treatment, according to the union.
The provider also is facing a class action lawsuit from patients who accuse Kaiser Insurance of requiring guardians of adult patients with severe mental illnesses to dis-enroll from the system’s coverage and instead seek treatment at government hospitals under the Medi-Cal public insurance program.
The union has, unfortunately, been without a contract for four years.
Clement Papazian, president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers’ Northern California chapter of mental health clinicians, posted the following at Labor Notes:
In contract bargaining in December, we presented Kaiser with a commonsense solution: clinician-management committees in each facility that can work together to determine adequate staffing levels and outsourcing needs, with help from a neutral, outside expert if the two sides cannot agree.
It’s an effective solution already in place in other health care systems. But once again, Kaiser failed to act.
With soaring profits and a $30 billion reserve, Kaiser is in a position to lead the way in finally making mental health care a priority in this country. The law requires it, and Kaiser’s ethical obligations as a health care provider demand it.
The NUHW isn’t the only union with a beef against Kaiser. The California Nurses Association is also planning a strike on Jan. 21 and 22.
Millions March in France
I really like that the French people are reacting to last week’s terrorists attacks by collectively telling the world they won’t be intimidated.
There were memorial services and marches in cities around the US and the world.
Here in San Diego, according to 10News:
A group of San Diegans showed their solidarity with hundreds of thousands of people across the world after this week’s terror attacks in Paris.
About 130 people marched in the rain through Balboa Park. Some carried a French flag while others held signs reading “Je suis Charlie,” meaning “I am Charlie.”
It’s a sad commentary on the state of American politics when politicians like Senator Lyndsey Graham get headlines (and airtime) so they can blame the Obama administration for something happening in France. And then there are politicians like Senator Diane Feinstein who seize upon the situation to whip up fears of “sleeper cells” lurking just around the corner in your neighborhood.
Meanwhile, in France, via the Washington Post news service:
An extraordinary chain of about 1.5 million people, led by a group of world leaders linking arms, marched down the Boulevard Voltaire in a show of force Sunday meant to illustrate the power of unity and freedom of expression over the sting of fanaticism and terror. The Interior Ministry said 3.7 million marched throughout France.
After a barrage of violence that traumatized the nation and left 17 victims dead, the boulevards of Paris produced a striking counter image: French President Francois Hollande arm and arm with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and flanked by the likes of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and a host of European and African leaders…
…“We are here to show that we are not afraid, that we are all French and that we will not be defeated by fear,” said Patrick Bidegaray, a 32-year-old corporate consultant and self-described atheist who attended the march with nine friends, including Christians, Muslims and Jews. “They want to divide us, but we are France. We are the Republic, first before everything. We are the Republic. Today, we are one.”
An editorial in today’s UT-San Diego makes for a nice segue into the dark side of those demonstration:
The murderous attack on the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo was a brutal reminder that the freedom of expression we so often take for granted in the United States is not a value shared around the world.
It also reminds us, as did the beheadings of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, that the job of shedding light on the world’s conflicts is deadly dangerous.
Last year, 66 journalists were murdered in places like Syria, the Palestinian territories, Ukraine and Iraq, according to the Reporters Without Borders’ annual report on threats to press freedom. Another 119 were kidnapped, while 178 were imprisoned in nations ranging from China to Eritrea to Egypt.
Some of those imprisoned journalists were locked up by the regimes of the ‘world leaders’ marching at the head of the parade.
This cartoon, via the Guido Fawkes blog, says it all:
And in Other Terrorism News
A bomb was set off outside the Colorado Springs offices of the NAACP last week.
From the UrbanDaily:
In a press conference Friday evening, the FBI said that it and the ATF are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for placing the improvised explosive device near the headquarters of the Colorado Springs, Colo. chapter of the NAACP on Tuesday.
They have also released a composite sketch (pictured) of a person who was in the area at the time of the bombing and appeared to have some involvement.
They are looking for a white male who is approximately 40 years old and balding. He was seen with a white pickup truck, 2000 model or with an open or missing tailgate. The license plate was missing or covered.
In Nigeria’s northeast the group known as Boko Haram went on a rampage in a city called Baga. From the Washington Post:
It’s not clear how many people were killed in Baga. Early reports on Thursday said hundreds. Others said it was many more. Musa Alhaji Bukar, a senior government official in Borno, said Boko Haram killed more than 2,000 people which, if true, would mean the group equaled its total kill count last year in one attack. More were said to have drowned in Lake Chad while attempting to swim to a nearby island. Some estimatessaid more than 20,000 people are now displaced as a result of what one reporter called Boko Haram’s “most horrific act of terrorism yet.”
Baga, local government officials say, is simply no more. It’s “virtually non-existent,” Bukar told the BBC. One man who escaped with his family toldAgence France-Presse he had to navigate through “many dead bodies on the ground” and that the “whole town was on fire.” Another man told Reuters he “escaped with my family in the car after seeing how Boko Haram was killing people … I saw bodies in the street. Children and women, some were crying for help.” He added: Bodies were “littered on the streets and surrounding bushes.”
Protesters in San Ysidro Demand Justice
On Saturday dozens of people gathered at the San Ysidro Point of Entry demanding justice in the case of the Christmas Eve death of 40-year-old Francisco Cesena.
From NBC 7 News:
Cesena died after being taken into custody for a security check. Agents seized heroin from him and found out he was wanted on a felony warrant.
He then allegedly attacked two officers and was subsequently tased, according to Customs and Border Protection officials. Cesena became unresponsive and stopped breathing just before 7 p.m. He was pronounced dead less than an hour later at Sharp Chula Vista Hospital.
His exact cause and manner of death have not been disclosed.
Protesters at the U.S.-Mexico border were also seen holding signs for the 43 Mexican students whose remains were found after they went missing last September.
San Diego Democrats Elect State Delegates
Local Democratic officials were thrilled at the turnout for elections to select delegates for the state convention on Saturday. Polling places, set up in each assembly district, struggled to deal with the crowds that appeared.
I was told turnout for the 78th district balloting tripled that seen in past years.
Each district selected seven women and seven men delegates to the state party convention, the body that makes endorsements ( a critical step in our top-two primary system) and writes the state party platform, among other things.
Here are the unofficial results:
77th Assembly District
Executive Board: Farouk Al-Nasser
Women: Judy Ki, Corinne Wilson, Esther Escovedo, Carol Waldman, Jennifer Sosa, Lisa Alverson, Julie Busse
Men: Farouk Al-Nasser, Aaron Berkovitch, Jason Berkovitch, Hugh Rothman, Thomas Hough, Anthony DeGuzman, Ralph Peters
78th Assembly District
Executive Board: Fred Rogers
Women:Susan Guinn, Gretchen Newsom, Gail Mackler, Jamie Quient, Cynara Velazquez, Rhoda Quate and Andrea Villa
Brian Polejes, Jared Quient, Fred Rogers, Craig Roberts, Maximilian Cotterill, Rory Pendergast, Tanner Songer
80th Assembly District
Executive Board: Lucas O’Connor
Women: Michelle Krug, Sandy Naranjo, Zarai Santos, Judy Walsh-Jackson, Georgette Gomez, Bridgette Browning, Genoveva Aguilar
Men: Marco Briones, Kelvin Barrios, Roberto Alcantar, Paul Ochoa, Jose Preciado, Lucas O’Connor, Sean Elo
The 79th Assembly District scheduled their voting for Sunday. As soon as I get results, I’ll add them to this story.
And from Republican side, there’s this announcement:
I’m pleased to announce who my 7 appointments as Delegates to the CA Republican Party are. Each serve a 2 year term. http://t.co/8pIDu3tdF9
— Carl DeMaio (@carldemaio) January 11, 2015
On This Day: 1876 – Novelist Jack London was born. His classic definition of a scab—someone who would cross a picket line and take a striker’s job: “After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which He made a scab. A scab is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water-logged brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles” 1932 – Hattie W. Caraway became the first woman elected to the US Senate. 1943 – The Office of Price Administration announced that standard frankfurters/hot dogs/wieners would be replaced by ‘Victory Sausages.’
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