Nurses Are Striking For The Same Reasons You Can't Ever Get A Doctor's Appointment

The strike centers on issues that are precisely why our broken healthcare system doesn't work for any of us.

overworked nurses on strike Imilian, Lovleah, SDI Productions, FamVeld,  aydinmutlu, Vuk Saric | Canva

Workers for one of the country's largest healthcare providers, Kaiser Permanente, have launched the largest healthcare strike in American history as 75,000 healthcare professionals walked off the job for a three-day strike affiliated with the Service Employees International Union.

Many on social media have been outraged by the strike, criticizing the workers for walking off of such critically important jobs in a healthcare system that is already on its knees. But that, in the end, is the entire point.


Nurses are striking for the same reasons you can't ever seem to get a doctor's appointment.

Thousands of pharmacists, optometrists, x-ray and lab technicians, vocational nurses and many other healthcare professionals have joined the three-day strike in states across the country, demanding better pay to keep up with inflation and increased staffing requirements.

RELATED: NICU Nurses Notices Teen Mother Visiting Her Premature Triplets By Herself Everyday — So She Decides To Adopt All 4 Of Them


Some workers are striking for a single day, while others in Western states are striking for three, causing many non-essential surgeries to be rescheduled and creating bottlenecks in facilities like emergency rooms.

Somewhat understandably, many people have taken to social media to voice their anger about the strike, furious that workers in a field in which so many professionals are so highly paid would walk off the job, leaving patients in the lurch. That is certainly one way to think about it, but it misses the most central point of the strike, which is far more important than pay.

Healthcare workers are striking in part because of staffing cuts.

If you've attempted to make a doctor's appointment in the last several years, you've likely experienced it — you call your doctor about a health problem you're having now, but they can't see you for another four months. So perhaps you head to the emergency room instead, where you are forced to wait for hours and hours to even be seen to fill out your forms, let alone actually see a doctor. 



These absurd and barbaric procedures have long been endemic to America's healthcare system, but both workers and patients say it's gotten worse since the pandemic. Workers report ever-increasing staffing cuts that are making their jobs untenable — and those decisions are being passed along to the rest of us when we try to access healthcare.


In short, our healthcare system is crumbling because of the profit motives of corporate healthcare providers, insurers, and companies who serve in both capacities like Kaiser Permanente, which is also one of the nation's largest insurers. And workers have had enough.

RELATED: Mom Forced To Take Son Out Of Country To Get Simple Dental Work — 'This Is Why People Don't Go To Doctors Even With Insurance'

Healthcare workers also say the staffing cuts have created environments that are unsafe for patients.

What tends to happen when you're overworked and spread too thin? You start to miss details and make mistakes, right? That's problematic enough when sitting at a desk all day, but when you're holding someone's life in your hands it's a whole other situation.

According to the Coalition of Kaiser Healthcare Unions, that is precisely the situation that has been caused by staffing cuts in many Kaiser Permanente facilities. Workers say the low levels of staff have resulted in unsafe healthcare environments with not only incredibly long wait times at all stages of care but in potentially life-threatening cases of patient neglect and dangerous oversights when it comes to diagnoses.


Workers say staffing cuts and shortages are both a result and an exacerbation of the impacts of the pandemic, when healthcare workers were stretched to their breaking point dealing with the months-long influx of COVID-19 patients and all of its knock-on effects, from the lack of adequate supplies to the politically motivated abuses by some patients' loved ones. Now, many healthcare workers are struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) because of their work experiences during the pandemic — just in time for a severe shortage in mental healthcare services.

But while the worst days of the pandemic have ended, workers say the staggering workload hasn't. As Kaiser healthcare worker James Bell put it to NBC news, "People are just plain worn out. Covid was a nightmare three years ago, and we're still not done."


Another worker teared up as she told CBS News, "As hard as we work for Kaiser, they don't work for us."



RELATED: Man Claims He Was Only Asked To Pay $31 For A Hospital Bill While In A Different Country — 'A Band-Aid Costs More At A US Hospital'

Kaiser workers are also striking for better pay, demanding a $25 per hour minimum wage in the field.

just $5 more per hour than fast-food workers will soon be entitled to in California, a profession with far fewer risks than healthcare. Kaiser has countered by offering $22 per hour, even as the company has been hiring independent contractors to backfill striking positions at sometimes exorbitant rates of pay like $150 per hour.




The Kaiser Permanente strike is of course part of a nationwide trend of strikes in recent months, from UPS workers to the Hollywood writers and actors of the WGA and SAG to members of the United Auto Workers union and even the staff of Waffle House restaurants.

Working people have simply had it with American businesses' treatment of their employees. Here's hoping the Kaiser Permanente workers win as big as some of those other striking workers have, because the work they do is quite literally life or death. They deserve to be treated accordingly, and the rest of us deserve to be able to access the healthcare we need without hours- and months-long waits. 

RELATED: Striking Waffle House Employees' Demand For $25 Per Hour Isn’t Unreasonable — They Actually Deserve More


John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.