About 32,000 healthcare employees had threatened to strike beginning today over understaffing and wages.
Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers are on the job today after the company averted what could have been a crippling strike.
The healthcare giant reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Health Care Unions over the weekend on a four-year contract, covering nearly 50,000 Kaiser Permanente healthcare employees in 22 local unions, according to a press release.
Some 32,000 employees in California, Oregon, and six other states had threatened to walk off the job beginning today in protest of understaffing and wages.
The agreement includes new staffing language and annual wage increases and maintains benefits while providing career development and advancement opportunities for Alliance union-represented employees.
Details of the tentative agreement include:
- Wage increases: Guaranteed across-the-board wage increases each year through 2025 in every region for all Alliance-represented employees
- Health benefits: No reductions or takeaways to family medical and dental coverage with the same co-pays for prescriptions and office visits
- Retirement benefits: The agreement maintains retirement income benefits and employer-subsidized retiree medical
- Bonus opportunities: Introduction of the Alliance Bonus Plan, which provides annual payouts for achieving new mutually agreed to objectives to address affordability
- New safe staffing and workload language: Will ensure every Kaiser Permanente patient receives safe care
- Opportunities for career growth: Alliance-represented employees will continue to have career development and advancement opportunities
The tentative agreement was approved by members of the economic subcommittee of the Alliance of Health Care Unions and will now go to union members for ratification. Voting on the tentative agreement will occur over the next several weeks.
"The Alliance of Health Care Unions fought to preserve a Kaiser Permanente where patients can count on excellent patient care and service," said Hal Ruddick, executive director, Alliance of Health Care Unions. "This has guided our work for 24 years."
"This agreement will mean patients will continue to receive the best care, and alliance members will have the best jobs," he said. "This contract protects our patients, provides safe staffing, and guarantees fair wages and benefits for every alliance member."
The agreement positions Kaiser Permanente to continue providing quality, affordable healthcare to the communities it serves, said Christian Meisner, Kaiser Permanente's senior vice president and chief human resources officer.
"These were challenging negotiations, but this tentative agreement demonstrates the strength of our Labor Management Partnership and the unique success it can achieve when we work together," he said.
The alliance and Kaiser Permanente have agreed to form a national Affordability and Competitiveness Task Force with specific targets to find innovative ways to address issues of affordability while continuing to work together to protect high-quality patient care.
“This agreement will mean patients will continue to receive the best care, and alliance members will have the best jobs.”
Hal Ruddick, executive director, Alliance of Health Care Unions
Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.
Photo credit: VDB Photos
The new four-year contract covers nearly 50,000 Kaiser Permanente healthcare employees in 22 local unions.
The agreement guarantees across-the-board wage increases each year through 2025.
New staffing language ensures safe patient care.