Kaiser Permanente’s labor woes worsen as union authorizes strike vote

The labor union representing 24,000 Kaiser Permanente staff is pausing participation in its labor-management partnership with the built-in well being system and is ready to ask its members to vote on a strike, union leaders stated Friday.

The United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Well being Care Professionals, which incorporates registered nurses, pharmacists, rehab therapists, midwives and optometrists, additionally stated the landmark labor-management partnership created in 1997 is “on life assist.”

The union’s collective bargaining agreements with the Oakland-based not-for-profit system expire inside weeks. The employer has supplied a 1% across-the-board increase for union employees and a two-tiered pay scale that would cut back compensation for brand spanking new hires in comparison with present staff beginning in 2023, which the union doesn’t assist.

Kaiser Permanente couldn’t be reached for remark earlier than this text printed.

Union employees say proposals like these, which cut back wages long run although the corporate reported $2.2 billion in working revenue in 2020, give them no alternative however to pause the partnership and probably name for a strike, the union stated in a information launch. Labor leaders fear Kaiser Permanente’s proposals will worsen employees shortages as different healthcare suppliers supply raises, signing bonuses and different incentives to draw employees, particularly nurses.

“We risked our lives and our personal households’ well being to save lots of folks,” Peter Sidhu, a registered nurse who has cared for COVID-19 sufferers. Sidhu is the union’s treasurer and a member of the bargaining committee negotiating with Kaiser Permanente.

“A few of us died from it. Others nonetheless endure lengthy haul signs. We had been with out beds. We had sufferers in tents. Not sufficient nurses. The employer ought to be thanking us. As an alternative, Kaiser Permanente has chosen to drive down wages and advantages,” Sidhu stated.

The newest bargaining session was Sept. 10 and no future conferences are presently scheduled, stated Joe Guzynski, the union’s govt director and chief negotiator.

“We’re specializing in in-depth conversations with our members about these points and what to do subsequent. With most of our contracts set to run out on Sept. 30, if Kaiser Permanente intends to drive these wage cuts, it might result in nationwide actions, together with a strike,” Guzynski stated.

The Oregon Federation of Nurses and Well being Professionals, which additionally belongs to the Alliance of Well being Care Unions, is planning a rally in Portland Sept. 28 to protest staffing ranges and proposed contract modifications at Kaiser Permanente amenities.

The labor administration partnership is a 24-year-old settlement between the well being system and its unions—now referred to as the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions and the Alliance of Well being Care Unions—to collectively make choices about affected person care, entry and high quality.

Staff do not need to strike and worry strolling out could be unfair to the journey nurses at Kaiser Permanente websites, who could be closely understaffed, stated, Elizabeth Hawkins, a registered nurse and the union’s secretary.

“This employer has an agenda that is being orchestrated from the highest down, from Kaiser management and the board of administrators, who I imagine not imagine within the partnership and dealing with the union,” stated Hawkins, who retired from Kaiser Permanente final March after 31 years. “We must always be capable of sit down and put the partnership ideas to work and get to the place we should be.”

The well being system probably narrowly averted a strike by the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions in September 2019 over contract negotiations, after agreeing to increased wages and a workforce growth program.



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