Union agreement with Kaiser will help healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients

80,000 workers who are members of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions covered by agreement

By Steve Trossman, Service Employees Union International

OAKLAND, Calif. – An agreement with healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente will ease some of the major burdens facing workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, including assistance with childcare and temporary shelter, and extra leave for workers who are tested or diagnosed with COVID-19.

The measures provide support for 80,000 workers who are members of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, more workers than covered by any such agreement in the nation. They apply to full-time, part-time and per-diem employees and can serve as a model for other hospitals and health systems to protect healthcare workers and the public.

“As healthcare workers in the middle of this pandemic, we know our duty is to our patients and the community, and we take that duty very seriously. But we can only give our best if we know our own lives and our families are protected as well,” said Juanita Kamhoot, who works in surgical survices at Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center in Clackamas, OR. “This agreement will make a real difference at a time when we need every healthcare worker on the job and focused on taking care of COVID-19 patients.”

The agreement focuses on three key areas:

CHILD-CARE ASSISTANCE: With schools closed, many healthcare employees are having difficulty finding affordable childcare. Under the agreement, Kaiser employees who work 32 hours a week or more in a KP facility will be eligible for a grant of $300 per week to pay for childcare for children 14 or younger (and disabled, dependent children). It can be used to pay for their own caregiver (as long as they are not a spouse or domestic partner) or to find childcare outside of the home.

The stipend will last until May 31, 2020 and will be pro-rated for employees who work between 20 and 32 hours (including per-diem employees) with a minimum of $210 a week.

TEMPORARY SHELTER: Kaiser will work with several hotel chains to provide alternative shelter for employees who:

  • Test positive for COVID-19;
  • Work a double shift;
  • Work multiple 12-hour shifts;
  • Have fewer than 8 hours between shifts; or
  • Have a household member who either has COVID-19 or is in a CDC-defined vulnerable group.

Eligibility applies to all employees working at least 20 hours per week (including per-diem employees) at a KP facility between April 13 and May 31, 2020.

EIGHTY ADDITIONAL HOURS OF LEAVE FOR EMPLOYEES WHO TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19: Employees working at a KP facility more than 20 hours a week (including per-diem employees) who test positive for COVID-19 will receive up to 80 hours of administrative leave. This is above and beyond regularly accrued leave. Employees who are sent home from Kaiser and are awaiting a test result will also be covered.

The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions comprises labor unions in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, representing more than 80,000 Kaiser caregivers. To learn more, visit https://www.unioncoalition.org/.

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