Kaiser Permanente optical workers in Antioch switch unions, join SEIU-UHW to win better contract

Part of 425 optical workers in Northern California

OAKLAND – More than 400 Kaiser Permanente optical workers in Northern California, eager to negotiate a stronger contract, voted to switch their membership to SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), a union that already represents 57,000 Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers across California.

“Every day we provide outstanding service to Kaiser patients, and it was well past time for our pay and benefits to reflect the work we do,” said Paul Martinez, an optical worker in Richmond, Calif. “By joining SEIU-UHW, our work will be more appreciated and we will have a stronger voice to speak up about patient care and job conditions.”

Nearly 60 percent of the workers voting supported joining SEIU-UHW by a vote of 217-150.

The vote applies to workers at 44 facilities located in 29 cities: Antioch, Daly City, Davis, Elk Grove, Fairfield, Folsom, Fremont, Gilroy, Lincoln, Livermore, Mountain View, Napa, Oakland, Petaluma, Rancho Cordova, Redwood City, Richmond, Rohnert Park, Roseville, Sacramento, San Mateo, San Rafael, Santa Clara, Santa Rosa, Stockton, Union City, Vacaville, Vallejo and Walnut Creek.

The workers had been members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), which represents 4,500 Kaiser employees in the state. However, over the years they had seen their pay and benefits chipped away, falling well behind those earned by SEIU-UHW members at Kaiser. For instance, NUHW members’ medical co-pays are four times higher than those paid by SEIU-UHW members, and new hires under NUHW’s contract start at lower pay scales and do not receive pensions.

In September 2019, Kaiser and SEIU-UHW members reached a four-year contract agreement that includes:

  • Establishing a $130 million program – Futuro Health – to cover the costs of training healthcare workers to fill an expected shortage of hundreds of thousands of healthcare jobs in California;
  • Annual raises of 3 percent in each of the four years;
  • Full protection of retirement benefits for current and future employees;
  • A ban on subcontracting and stronger restrictions on outsourcing; and
  • Forming a committee to ensure patients receive personal care that integrates cutting-edge technology with quality, dedicated caregivers.


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