• October 18, 2021

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

Sep 18, 2021

The labor union representing 24,000 Kaiser Permanente workers 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 provided a 1% across-the-board elevate for union staff and a two-tiered pay scale that would cut back compensation for brand spanking new hires in comparison with present workers beginning in 2023, which the union doesn’t assist.

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

Union staff say proposals like these, which scale back wages long run though the corporate reported $2.2 billion in working earnings in 2020, give them no selection 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 staff, 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 have been with out beds. We had sufferers in tents. Not sufficient nurses. The employer needs to be thanking us. As a substitute, Kaiser Permanente has chosen to drive down wages and advantages,” Sidhu stated.

The latest bargaining session was Sept. 10 and no future conferences are at the moment scheduled, stated Joe Guzynski, the union’s government 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 power these wage cuts, it may 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 services.

The labor administration partnership is a 24-year-old settlement between the well being system and its unions—now known 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.

Employees do not wish to strike and concern strolling out can be unfair to the journey nurses at Kaiser Permanente websites, who can 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 consider not consider within the partnership and dealing with the union,” stated Hawkins, who retired from Kaiser Permanente final March after 31 years. “We should always be capable of sit down and put the partnership rules to work and get to the place we have to be.”

The well being system doubtless narrowly prevented a strike by the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions in September 2019 over contract negotiations, after agreeing to greater wages and a workforce improvement program.

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