Amid the Kaiser strike, a look at California’s biggest union walkouts in recent memory

The summer of strikes has turned into the fall season as nearly 75,000 Kaiser Permanente health care workers in six states are in the final day of their three-day walkout. This strike by Kaiser staff, including X-ray operators, surgeons and nursing assistants, is now one of the largest health care work stoppages in US history, involving more than 20,000 workers in the Bay Area alone.

Kaiser is one of the largest private insurers in California, and its workers have joined thousands of other strikers who have drawn national attention to California labor issues, such as the Writers and Actors Guild in Hollywood and a guild that focuses on the hotel industry in Los Angeles. – Angeles.

Labor action like this has declined in the United States in recent decades. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these declines—notable during the recession—are due to growth in services, technology and declining union membership.


Still, when measured by the number of workers walking off the job, some of the largest strikes in California have occurred in recent years — though those walkouts may also include workers from other states (such as the current Kaiser Permanente protests involving states like Colorado and Washington).

Here are some of the largest labor strikes in California since 1993, according to the BLS. These data include work stoppages involving 1,000 workers or more, and the number of workers at the start of the strike is rounded to the nearest hundred.

1. Acting actors are on strike

How many workers are on strike? About 160 thousand.

Following the writers’ equivalent, SAG-AFTRA (the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) went on strike this July, bringing Hollywood to a standstill. The actors’ union is still picketing over wage cuts, residuals in the streaming age and the threat of AI.

The writers’ strike recently ended — and SAG-AFTRA plans to meet with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on Friday and next week for more talks.

2. Actors, this time from the 2000s

How many workers are on strike? About 135 thousand.

A little over twenty years ago, SAG and AFTRA (then two separate unions) went on strike from May 2000 to the end of October 2000. William Daniels – Mr. Feeney of Boy meets world — as president of SAG.

This caused controversy among the actors, as the purpose of the strike was to dispute how members were compensated in commercials, leading some non-union actors to picket and shoot commercials anyway.

Michael Jones and others walk on strike at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center in Oakland on October 4, 2023. (Martin do Nascimento/KQED)

3. Southern California supermarket strikes in 2003–2004

How many workers are on strike? About 67,300.

From October 2003 to February 2004, workers went on strike against Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons Markets after losing some health care benefits, although the number of people on strike has decreased over time.

According to the, these networks lost a total of 1.5 billion dollars Los Angeles Times.

4. Los Angeles Unified School District strike this year

How many workers are on strike? About 65 thousand.

For three days in March, educators — specifically bus drivers, custodians and cafeteria workers — went on strike to demand higher wages to live in increasingly expensive Southern California, shutting down classes for more than 400,000 students.

5. University of California in 2018

How many workers are on strike? About 53 thousand.

For three days in May, thousands of janitors, security guards, gardeners and other service workers on ten UC campuses went on strike to address pay inequality. Then nurses, pharmacists, radiologists and medical workers joined the natives in a “compassionate strike”.

6. The University of California refused last year

How many workers are on strike? About 48 thousand.

Ten UC campuses are on strike again, this time in 2022. It was the largest strike in the history of US higher education. Workers included researchers, doctoral students, teachers, and more.

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