Several dozen people rallied outside Kaiser Permanente’s headquarters in the Lloyd District Nov. 13 to protest the health care company’s unilateral decision to eliminate the classification of periodontal hygienists. Periodontal hygienists do specialized work in conjunction with periodontists to provide treatment of advanced gum disease.
Seventeen periodontal hygienists — in a bargaining unit of 130-plus general hygienists — are members of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals Local 5017.
The union filed a grievance earlier this year claiming the action violated their collective bargaining agreement. The dispute is scheduled to go to arbitration later this month.
“In the meantime, Kaiser has continued to proceed along the path to eliminate the perio-hygienist classification,” said Local 5017 spokeswoman Temple Lentz.
The union said periodontal hygienists will continue doing the work, only at a lower pay scale. They say the action places profits over patient care.
Joining the hygienists at the rally were members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, Communications Workers of America Local 7901, Oregon Nurses Association, Oregon AFL-CIO, and Jobs with Justice.