Archive for the ‘Labor & Unions’ Category

Nurses, health care workers hold one-day strike at Antioch’s Sutter Delta Medical Center Monday

Monday, April 18th, 2022

Photo: CNA

More than 8,000 participating in strike at 15 Sutter facilities for safe staffing and health and safety protections; Sutter Health responds

By Allen D. Payton

The California Nurses Association (CNA) and CNA affiliate Caregivers and Healthcare Employees Union (CHEU) announced on the National Nurses United website on April 8, that “Nurses and health care workers at 15 facilities across Northern California will hold a one-day strike on April 18 to protest Sutter Health’s refusal to address their proposals about safe staffing and health and safety protections.” The CNA is an affiliate of National Nurses United. The list of facilities includes Sutter Delta Medical Center on Lone Tree Way in Antioch.

This notice follows nearly unanimous strike authorization votes in March. Nurses and health care workers have given advance notice to Sutter Health for the strike. More than 8,000 registered nurses and health care workers are participating in the strike.

Sutter Health RNs and health care workers have been in negotiations since June 2021 for a new contract, with little to no movement on key issues. They urge management to invest in nursing staff and agree to a contract that provides:

  • safe staffing that allows nurses to provide safe and therapeutic care and
  • pandemic readiness protections that require the hospitals to invest in personal protective equipment stockpiles and comply with California’s PPE stockpile law.”

“The Sutter nurses voted for this strike,” said Renee Waters, a Trauma Neuro Intensive Care RN with 26 years of experience. “We are striking because Sutter is not transparent about the stockpile of PPE supplies and contact tracing. They resist having nurses directly involved in planning and implementation of policies that affect all of us during a pandemic. We must address these issues and more. A fair contract is needed to retain experienced nurses, have sufficient staffing and training, and ensure we have the resources we need to provide safe and effective care for our patients. Nurses are fighting back against Sutter putting profits before patients and health care workers.”

“Nurses overwhelmingly voted to go out on strike because we see no other option left for us and our patients,” said Amy Erb, RN , who works in Critical Care at California Pacific Medical Center. “We have tried repeatedly to address the chronic and widespread problem of short staffing that causes delays in care and potentially puts patients at risk, but hospital administrators continue to ignore us. We have a moral and legal obligation to advocate for our patients. We advocate for them at the bedside, at the bargaining table, and if we have to, on the strike line.”

Nurses and health care workers will be picketing from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Sutter Health Responds

Emma Dugas, Media Relations Coordinator with Sutter Health offered the following response from the healthcare organization late Sunday afternoon:

“Despite resuming negotiations with the involvement of a federal mediator, the California Nurses Association (CNA) has refused to call off their strike beginning 7 a.m. Monday. Work stoppages at 18 of our sites – even for a single day — require complex and costly preparation, and obligate us to make plans that our teams, patients and communities can rely on. Given the uncertainty of a looming strike, and in order to provide surety for our patients, communities and care teams, we will staff our hospitals on Monday with the contracted replacement workers where needed. We hope the CNA union will call off this strike so our nurses can return to work and do what they do best — care for our patients. We remain committed to continue bargaining as long as negotiations are progressing effectively toward averting the strike.”

Dugas provided an additional statement from Sutter Health on Monday:

“By moving forward with today’s costly and disruptive strike, union leadership has made it clear they are willing to put politics above patients and the nurses they represent – despite the intervention of federal mediators and our willingness to bargain in good faith while under threat of a strike. Our attention is on providing safe, high-quality care to the patients and communities we’re honored to serve. We are confident in our ability to manage this disruption. We are hopeful CNA shares our desire to reach an agreement and enable our nurses to turn their focus back to the patients the union has asked them to walk away from.”

Dugas also provided a Labor Fact Sheet dated April 2022 from Sutter Health with the following information:

“SUTTER HEALTH’S INVESTMENTS & COMMITMENT TO EMPLOYEES

Sutter Health is consistently recognized as one of the region’s best employers and a leader in providing safe, high-quality care for more than 3 million patients each year. The two go hand in hand: our caregivers provide exceptional, compassionate care for our patients, and we are dedicated to recognizing, investing in and supporting them.

PROVIDING COMPETITIVE PAY & BENEFITS

We know the quality of care we deliver is made possible by the dedicated clinical and professional teams across our integrated network. Sutter provides competitive wage and benefits packages that recognize employees’ hard work and support their total well-being. A nurse who chooses to work full-time at Sutter hospitals with CNA contracts receives generous benefits, including:

Competitive Salaries: An average of more than $140,000 (or more than $81/hour). The average annual wage for California nurses in 2021 was $124,000 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Employer Provided Healthcare Coverage: Access to comprehensive healthcare coverage for employees and their families — provided at no or low cost to staff.

Paid Time Off: Up to 41 paid days off annually and access to extended sick leave, as well as short- and long-term disability leave.

Retirement Benefits: We are proud to offer our employees several benefit plans that help our workforce plan for their retirement. For those employees participating in our cash balance pension design, we have proposed enhancing the earned interest that Sutter contributes to employees’ cash balance pension balance each year starting in 2024.

Career Development Support: Coursework, coaching, hands-on experience and other support for nurses seeking stability and growth over the course of an entire career.

Voluntary Benefits: Critical illness, supplemental life insurance and legal plans that provide essential resources when it’s needed most.”

See more details from Sutter Health’s Labor Fact Sheet, here: Sutter Health Labor Fact Sheet April 2022

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

After two strikes, hundreds of Sutter Delta healthcare workers ratify agreement to increase staffing, improve patient care

Friday, December 17th, 2021

By Renée Saldaña, Media Relations, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West

ANTIOCH, Calif. –  Following two strikes, more than 350 healthcare workers won their effort to improve patient care at Sutter Delta Medical Center by ratifying a contract agreement that will address safe staffing levels, a top issue for the frontline caregivers who earlier this year went on strike twice due to difficult working conditions. (See related article)

“This agreement was possible because we as a union stood together to improve patient care and advocated for safe staffing levels. We are relieved to know that dozens of positions have now been posted,” said Stefanye Sartain, a respiratory therapist at Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch. “We are proud to have negotiated a four-year agreement that recognizes the skill and dedication we bring to our work and gives us the peace of mind to focus on safely caring for our patients.”

Details of the agreement include:

  • Posting all 37 unposted staff positions, many of which have already been filled
  • Emphasizing the need to attract and retain quality caregivers by providing annual raises of 3 or 4 percent in each of the four years, with bonuses to recognize the dedication of long-term employees
  • A 4-million-dollar investment in Futuro Health, a non-profit dedicated to training thousands of healthcare workers to address the workforce shortage

SEIU-UHW members at Sutter Delta Medical Center include frontline workers such as emergency room technicians, respiratory therapists, phlebotomists, transporters, and licensed vocational nurses.

Sutter Health Responds

A Sutter Health spokesperson responded with, “We enter every labor negotiation with the same mindset: putting patients above politics. While we understand the union’s desire to position this agreement as a win, the truth is that it’s consistent with the agreements that every other SEIU-represented hospital in our integrated network of care approved months ago. Despite the disruptions of two strikes called by SEIU representatives who claim they prioritize patient safety, we reached an agreement that hits the critical benchmarks we set for ourselves: supporting and rewarding our employees for their important work and maintaining the strength and stability of our hospital for everyone who depends on us.”

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Kaiser claims bargaining in good faith with striking engineers’ union, best compensated in profession

Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

A large inflatable rat was on display at the Antioch Kaiser strike on Thursday afternoon, Nov. 18, 2021. Photo by Allen Payton

On strike for nearly three months

By Antonia Ehlers, PR and Media Relations, Kaiser Permanente Northern California

Kaiser Permanente has been bargaining in good faith with Local 39 IUOE (International Union of Operating Engineers Local 39 Stationary Engineers), the union that represents about 600 Kaiser Permanente operating engineers, for several months. The union decided to call a strike and have kept employees out for nearly three months. Our proposals to Local 39 will keep our engineers among the best compensated in their profession, at an average of more than $180,000 in total wages and benefits. We are not proposing any take-aways. (See related article)

In bargaining with IOUE Local 39, we delivered a comprehensive proposal that offers across-the-board pay increases and cash payments that are similar to our other employees’ and continues to include all our industry-leading benefits. Further, engineers’ retirement benefit would continue to be substantial, with several improvements.

Right now, Local 39’s position is the same as before it went on strike. The union continues to insist it receive much more – in some cases nearly 2 times more – than other union agreements covering Kaiser Permanente employees. It simply is not in line with other employees, nor is it in line with our obligation to continue addressing the affordability of health care for our more than 4.5 million members.

We will continue to bargain in good faith, and we hope that Local 39 leaders will continue to do the same. That means more discussion, fresh ideas, and compromise. At this time, we do not have any further dates scheduled to meet.  We are optimistic that we can resolve the remaining issues with Local 39 at the bargaining table and reach an agreement that continues to reward our employees and supports health care affordability, just as we have with several unions recently.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Kaiser Permanente issues statements about claims made by the California Nurses Association, bargaining with NUHW and claims they’ve made

Friday, November 19th, 2021

By Antonia Ehlers, PR and Media Relations, Kaiser Permanente Northern California

Members of both the California Nurses Association and National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) are participating in sympathy strikes on Friday, Nov. 19, at all Kaiser facilities in Northern California in support of the Engineers, Local 39 who have been on strike for 63 days, as of today.

Kaiser Permanente statement about claims made by the California Nurses Association

November 19, 2021

Note: Kaiser Permanente is not in bargaining with the California Nurses Association, whose contract runs through August 2022.

The last 20 months of this pandemic have been an incredibly challenging and stressful time to work on the front lines of health care. We are extremely grateful for our frontline health care workforce, including our nurses, whose commitment to providing care and service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of inspiring.

And while staffing continues to be a challenge across health care, we have hired hundreds of nurses and other care team members in recent months and continue to support our teams and their need for respite by bringing in experienced temporary staff.  In fact, in spite of the acute shortage of nurses in the state, Kaiser Permanente Northern California will have hired an estimated 1,800 experienced nurses by the end of the year, in addition to adding 300 new nurses who will graduate from Kaiser Permanente’s nurse residency program.

We want to thank our nurses, who demonstrate resilience, expertise and compassion every day. We recognize and have worked hard to ease the stresses that this pandemic has caused our people. Since early in the pandemic response, Kaiser Permanente has provided nearly $600 million in employee assistance to ensure that our frontline employees had access to alternate housing, special childcare grants, and additional paid leave for COVID-19 illness and exposure. When it became clear at year-end that our workers’ performance bonuses could be reduced by the effects of the pandemic, we instead chose to guarantee all eligible union-represented employees at least a 100% payout of their performance bonus, amounting to thousands of dollars a person on average.

Kaiser Permanente statement about bargaining with NUHW and claims made by the union

November 19, 2021

Kaiser Permanente and the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), which represents nearly 2,000 of our mental health professionals in Northern California, began bargaining in late July. While the union is issuing press statements about staffing, the real issue at the table is how much therapists are paid. 

This strike is a bargaining tactic this union has used every time it is bargaining for a new contract with Kaiser Permanente, over the past 11 years of its existence. We are still bargaining and are committed to resolving the issues and reaching an agreement.  

There is a national shortage of mental health clinicians that was already a challenge before the pandemic, and over the past year-and-a-half the demand for care has increased everywhere. We have been taking action to address the shortage of caregivers and to ensure care is available to our members. Over the past five years we have added hundreds of new mental health clinicians to our workforce; we currently have more than 300 open positions. We’ve worked hard to expand the number of therapists in California and are investing $30 million to build a pipeline to educate and train new mental health professionals across the state, with an emphasis on expanding the number of bilingual and diverse students entering the mental health field.

We have significantly expanded our ability to provide virtual care to patients who want it, increasing convenience and access, even though NUHW initially objected to this effort. We also continue to scale up our collaborative care programs that have proven to effectively treat patients with anxiety and depression diagnoses. 

As a result of these efforts and more, Kaiser Permanente offers timely access to initial and return appointments that meets all state standards and is above the average of other California providers. While this is an accomplishment during this time of caregiver shortage and increased demand, we are not finished. We know that every appointment is important and matters to each patient, every person’s needs are unique and every Kaiser Permanente member who needs care deserves timely access to that care. 

We have the greatest respect and gratitude for our mental health professionals and we are dedicated to supporting them in their important work. In addition to working with us to improve access to high quality mental health care, we are asking NUHW to work constructively to help address future costs to ensure we continue to be affordable for our members. 

At the heart of the issues in bargaining is this: Health care is increasingly unaffordable, and escalating wages are half of our costs. Kaiser Permanente is indisputably one of the most labor-friendly organizations in the United States. We are committed to remaining an employer of choice for mental health professionals, and to continuing to offer our employees market-leading wages and benefits. But we cannot continue to allow costs to grow beyond what our members can afford.  

The wages our mental health care professionals receive are significantly higher than average in some markets. For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area, licensed marriage family therapists at Kaiser Permanente earn more than $126,000 on average, which is more than $21,000 higher than market average wages, and licensed clinical social workers make more than $128,000, which is more than $16,000 higher than the market average. The same trend is true in the other parts of Northern California. In Sacramento, licensed clinical social workers earn an average of more than $127,000 in wages, which is $24,000 more than the market average. In addition, we provide among the most generous benefits available. 

The challenge we are trying to address is that if we continue to increase costs so high above the marketplace, our members will not be able to afford to get the care they need. We have to work together to address this challenge in a way that honors and rewards our employees and recognizes the increasing difficulty our members and customers face in paying for care. 

NUHW leadership has called for strikes every time we are in bargaining. It is a key part of their bargaining strategy, and it is especially disappointing that they are asking our dedicated and compassionate employees to walk away from their patients when they need us most. We take seriously any threat to disrupt care. We urge our employees to reject any call for a strike, continue to focus on providing care, and work with us through the bargaining process to finalize a new agreement.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Kaiser nurses holding 24-hour sympathy strike in support of engineers’ union

Friday, November 19th, 2021

Source: California Nurses Association

On day 63 of strike by Engineers, Local 39

Taking over where the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, OPEIU Local 29 and IFPTE Local 20 m members left off, Kaiser nurses are holding a 24-hour sympathy strike in solidarity with IUOE Stationary Engineers, Local 39. It started at 7 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 19 and will last until 7 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20, the California Nurses Association (CNA) announced. The strikes are being held at all Kaiser facilities in Northern California including both Antioch and Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County. Friday marks the 63rd day the Kaiser engineers have been on strike. (See related article)

“An injury to one of us is an injury to all of us, so nurses will be standing in solidarity with our engineer colleagues as they go on strike this month,” said CNA President Cathy Kennedy, a registered nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Roseville. “It’s so important for working people to stand together, and we hope that with the nurses by their side, Kaiser engineers will win meaningful change for working people, and for safe patient care conditions.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kaiser Permanente has made $13 billion in profits. However, rather than spend that money on increasing core staffing, Kaiser has proposed to float engineers among facilities. This model would institutionalize the staffing shortages that have already hurt patients and workers. Rather than accept this takeaway, engineers have been on strike for nearly two months.

“Nurses know the devastating impact that short staffing has on our community’s health and well-being,” said Kennedy. “We also know that in order to provide the safe patient care our communities need and deserve, we must be able to count on our coworkers and they must be able to count on us. So, we are standing with the Kaiser engineers in their righteous fight for a safe and just workplace.”

CNA registered nurses will be holding sympathy strikes at locations including:

  • Antioch Medical Center, 4501 Sand Creek Rd, Antioch, CA 94531
  • Walnut Creek Medical Center, 1425 S Main Street, Walnut Creek, CA 94596
  • Fremont Medical Center, 39400 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont, CA 94538
  • Fresno Medical Center, 7300 N Fresno Street, Fresno, CA 93720
  • Manteca Medical Center, 1777 W. Yosemite Avenue, Manteca, CA 95337
  • Modesto Medical Center, 4601 Dale Road, Modesto, CA 95356
  • Oakland Medical Center, 3600 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611
  • Redwood City Medical Center, 1100 Veterans Blvd, Redwood City, CA 94063
  • Richmond Medical Center, 901 Nevin Avenue, Richmond, CA 94801
  • Roseville Medical Center, 1600 Eureka Road, Roseville, CA 95661
  • Sacramento Medical Center, 2025 Morse Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95825
  • San Francisco Medical Center, 2425 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94115
  • San Leandro Medical Center, 2500 Merced Street, San Leandro, CA 94577
  • San Rafael Medical Center, 99 Montecillo Road, San Rafael, CA 94903
  • Santa Clara Medical Center, 700 Lawrence Expressway, Santa Clara, CA 95051
  • Santa Rosa Medical Center, 401 Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa, CA 95403
  • San Jose Medical Center, 250 Hospital Parkway, San Jose, CA 95119
  • South San Francisco Medical Center, 1200 El Camino Real, South San Francisco, CA 94080
  • South Sacramento Medical Center, 6600 Bruceville Road, Sacramento, CA 95823
  • Vacaville Medical Center, 1 Quality Drive, Vacaville, CA 95688
  • Vallejo Medical Center, 975 Sereno Drive, Vallejo, CA 94589

The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United is the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the nation with 100,000 members in more than 200 facilities throughout California and more than 175,000 RNs nationwide.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

 

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Thousands of Kaiser employees participate in Sympathy Strikes Thursday in support of Local 39 Engineers union

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

A large inflatable rat was on display at the Antioch Kaiser strike on Deer Valley Road Thursday afternoon, Nov. 18, 2021. Photos by Allen Payton

Including Antioch Kaiser workers; to continue Friday with different unions

Engineers on strike for 62 days, so far

By Renée Saldaña, Press Secretary, SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West

Signs from other unions posted in solidarity near the strike location.

Thousands of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) members have been joined by OPEIU Local 29, IFPTE Local 20 in a sympathy strike to demand that Kaiser stop its economic bullying and agree to a fair contract with the Local 39 Operating Engineers. Workers walked off the job and onto the strike line at 7 a.m., today, Thursday, November 18 until 7:00 a.m. Friday, Nov. 19 at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Antioch and at various facilities across Northern California.

More than 40,000 workers from SEIU-UHW, OPEIU Local 29, and IFPTE Local 20 were prepared to walk out in support of the Local 39 engineers, making it the largest sympathy strike in the country.

“They’ve been out here all this time without a fair contract” said lifelong Antioch resident Kim Weiss, AMC Rep Chair for SEIU at Kaiser Antioch about the engineers. She works with cardiac and diabetes patients at the medical center. “We’re sympathy striking in solidarity. A total of 620 SEIU workers have been on strike at Antioch Kaiser, today.”

Healthcare workers wearing their uniforms planned to walk out onto the strike line, march, give speeches, distribute leaflets to passersby, hold signs and blow whistles in support of Kaiser engineers from Local 39.

“We are sympathy striking because Kaiser has lost its way and is putting its drive for profits over people, hurting our patients and union co-workers. The Local 39 engineers play a critical role in maintaining our facilities and the equipment we use to take care of patients,” said Ethan Ruskin, a health educator at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Jose. “Kaiser needs to put patients first and deliver a fair contract to the engineers.”

Earlier this week, healthcare workers representing SEIU-UHW’s 36,000 Kaiser Permanente members in Northern California voted by a 97% margin to authorize a one-day sympathy strike in solidarity with Kaiser engineers from Local 39 who have been on strike for two months.

Jobs affected by the sympathy strike vote include optometrists, clinical laboratory scientists, respiratory and x-ray technicians, licensed vocational nurses, certified nursing assistants, surgical technicians, pharmacy technicians, phlebotomists, medical assistants, and housekeepers, among other positions.

A list of tasks the striking engineers perform at Kaiser.

Engineers on Strike for 62 Days So Far

According to those on strike in Antioch, 800 engineers in Northern California including 13 stationary engineers and six or seven clinical engineers at the Antioch Kaiser have been on strike for 62 days, as of Thursday.

They fix all the piping and all the medical equipment, from the life support systems to anything else mechanical.

Asked about the large blow-up rat on display at the Antioch Kaiser strike, one of the union members said it referred to the Kaiser management and the “scab” workers doing their jobs while they’re on strike.

“They’ve brought in guys from out of state who have no training and paying them three times what they pay us,” said one of the strikers.

“Think of the risk at which they’re placing the patients with the equipment that’s not being maintained for over two months,” said Mark Morucci, Chief Engineer at Kaiser Antioch.

Sympathy strikes are taking place at the following locations starting at 7 a.m. on November 18:

  • ANTIOCH: Kaiser Permanente Antioch Medical Center, 4501 Sand Creek Rd, Antioch CA 94531
  • WALNUT CREEK: Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek Medical Center, 1425 S Main St, Walnut Creek, CA 94596
  • FREMONT: Kaiser Permanente Fremont Medical Center, 39400 Paseo Padre Pkwy, Fremont, CA 94538
  • FRESNO: Kaiser Permanente Fresno Medical Center, 7300 N Fresno St, Fresno, CA 93720
  • MANTECA: Kaiser Permanente Manteca Medical Center, 1777 W. Yosemite Avenue, Manteca, 95337
  • MODESTO: Kaiser Permanente Modesto Medical Center, 4601 Dale Road, Modesto, CA 95356
  • OAKLAND: Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center, 3600 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94611
  • REDWOOD CITY: Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center, 1150 Veterans Blvd, Redwood City, CA 94063
  • RICHMOND: Kaiser Permanente Richmond Medical Center, 901 Nevin Ave., Richmond, CA 94801
  • ROSEVILLE: Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center, 1600 Eureka Rd, Roseville, CA 95661
  • SACRAMENTO: Kaiser Permanente Sacramento Medical Center, 2025 Morse Ave, Sacramento, 95825
  • SOUTH SACRAMENTO: Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center, 6600 Bruceville Road, Sacramento, CA 95823
  • SAN FRANCISCO: Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center, 2425 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA
  • SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO: Kaiser Permanente South San Francisco Medical Center, 1200 El Camino Real, S. San Francisco, CA 94080
  • SAN JOSE: Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center, 250 Hospital Parkway, San Jose, CA 95119
  • SAN LEANDRO: Kaiser Permanente San Leandro Medical Center, 2500 Merced St, San Leandro, CA 94577
  • SANTA CLARA: Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center, 710 Lawrence Expressway, Santa Clara CA 95051
  • SANTA ROSA: Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center, 401 Bicentennial Way, Santa Rosa, 95403
  • STOCKTON: Kaiser Permanente Stockton Medical Center, 7373 West Lane, Stockton CA 95210
  • VACAVILLE: Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center, 1 Quality Dr, Vacaville, CA 95688
  • VALLEJO: Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Medical Center, 975 Sereno Drive, Vallejo, CA 94589

Another sympathy strike will take place on Friday by the NUHW and the California Nurses Association.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Kaiser issues update on labor negotiations, strikes to begin Thursday and Friday

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

By Antonia Ehlers, PR and Media Relations, Kaiser Permanente Northern California

In response to the planned healthcare worker strikes beginning today and tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, Nov. 18 and 19, Kaiser Permanente issued the following statement:

We are extremely grateful for all our frontline health care workforce, whose commitment to providing care and service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of inspiring. We recently reached successful agreements with dozens of unions that represent more than 60,000 Kaiser Permanente employees that demonstrate our commitment to providing excellent wages and benefits for all employees while meeting our commitment to delivering high-quality, affordable care for our members and patients. These are market-leading contracts, reached through constructive and reasonable bargaining.

Bargaining with Local 39 IUOE

Kaiser Permanente has been bargaining in good faith with Local 39 IUOE, the union that represents about 600 Kaiser Permanente operating engineers, for several months. The union decided to call a strike and have kept employees out for more than two months. We are offering Local 39 employees wages that are similar to our other employees’ and that, on top of Local 39’s generous medical and the richest retirement benefits, will keep our engineers among the best compensated in their profession, at an average of more than $180,000 in total wages and benefits. We are not proposing any take-aways and our proposals do not differentiate between current and future employees. But union leadership wants more, asking for unreasonable increases far beyond any other union at Kaiser Permanente.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, after many hours bargaining on Tuesday and Wednesday, there is no movement in negotiations with Local 39. The union insists it receive much more – in some cases nearly two times more – than other union agreements covering Kaiser Permanente employees.

Michelle Gaskill-Hames, Senior Vice President, Hospital and Health Plan Operations, Kaiser Permanente Northern California spoke via video about the workers and patient care during the strike.

We are optimistic that we can resolve the remaining issues with Local 39 at the bargaining table and reach an agreement that continues to reward our employees and supports health care affordability, just as we have with several unions this week.

Sympathy strikes

As one of the largest health care union employers in the United States — with nearly 75% of our employees working under collective bargaining agreements — we fully understand solidarity among unions. But given the demands of Local 39, on top of the already market-leading compensation and highest retirement benefit of any represented employee in our organization, we believe that sympathy strikes are not appropriate in this case. We are asking our staff to choose to be there for our patients, and to come to work.

We question why leaders of other unions are asking their members to walk out on patients on Nov. 18 and 19 in sympathy for Local 39. This will not bring us closer to an agreement and most important, it is unfair to our members and patients to disrupt their care when they most need our employees to be there for them.

Several unions have submitted sympathy strike notices: SEIU-UHW, Local 20, and Local 29 on Thursday, November 18 and the California Nurses Association, Friday, November 19. Kaiser Permanente is not in bargaining with these unions, and each has a current contract. In fact, we have informed SEIU-UHW, Local 20, and Local 29 union leaders that we believe in accordance with their contracts, these sympathy strikes are not protected by law.

We are also in bargaining with NUHW, the union that represents our mental health professionals. NUHW has announced a one-day strike for Friday, November 19.

We have taken steps to ensure that our members and patients will continue to receive high-quality, safe care and service should these strikes occur.

We have prepared thoroughly to care for our patients in the event of a strike and are working diligently to reduce the impact.

  • During the strike, care will be provided by physicians and experienced clinical managers and staff, with the support of trained and qualified contingency staff.
  • Some non-urgent medical appointments or procedures may be affected, and we will reach out to patients to reschedule or convert appointments to phone or video if that is appropriate. We will not postpone any urgent or emergency care, or critical medical appointments.
  • We encourage members to schedule an appointment should they need lab, optometry, or radiology services this week as some of our locations will be temporarily closed or operating with reduced hours. If a member has an urgent need for services, they should call the Appointment and Advice Call Center, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Some outpatient pharmacies will be temporarily closed from Nov. 18 and 19.  If a member does not need their refill right away, any closed pharmacies will reopen on Saturday, Nov. 20. Our Mail Delivery pharmacy will remain open during the strike to order refills at kp.org or by phone.
  • In the event an urgent prescription is needed and the outpatient pharmacy is closed, Kaiser Permanente staff will provide members with direction on how to fill their prescription at an open Kaiser Permanente pharmacy or at a retail pharmacy. Hospital pharmacies for inpatient care and critical infusion services will remain in operation.
  • All our hospitals and emergency departments will continue to be open during a strike and remain safe places to receive care.

As this is an evolving situation, we will continue to communicate directly with our members and post updates on kp.org as they are available.

We are very sorry for any disruption members may experience as we take steps to ensure that we continue to provide high-quality, safe care during this union strike.

Kaiser Permanente is indisputably one of the most labor-friendly organizations in the United States.

Our history and our future are deeply connected to organized labor. Labor unions have always played an important role in our efforts to provide more people with access to high-quality care and to make care more affordable.

It’s unconscionable that union leaders would ask health care workers to walk away from the patients who need them and deliberately disrupt their care.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Pharmacy strike canceled as tentative agreement reached with Kaiser Permanente and the Guild for Professional Pharmacists

Monday, November 15th, 2021

Statement from Kaiser Permanente

November 15, 2021

By Deniene Erickson, Issues Manager, Kaiser Permanente Northern California

We are very pleased to announce that at about 1:00 a.m. this morning, Kaiser Permanente and the Guild for Professional Pharmacists reached a tentative agreement for a new 3-year contract for pharmacists in our Northern California region. The tentative agreement reflects our respect for Kaiser Permanente pharmacy professionals and the exceptional care they provide and provides industry-leading wage and benefit packages. The agreement is aligned with our commitment to high quality, affordable health care and to being the best place to work in health care, and includes the following:

  • Wage increases: Guaranteed across-the-board wage increases each year through the duration of the three year contract
  • Health benefits: No reductions or takeaways to already low-cost family medical and dental coverage with the same low copays for prescriptions and office visits
  • Retirement benefits: Maintains generous retirement income benefits and employer-subsidized retiree medical.
  • Bonus opportunities: Higher incentive bonus opportunities
  • Agreement on important operational matters

In light of this, the Guild for Professional Pharmacists has canceled the strike that was expected to begin November 15 and our pharmacies will return to normal operations later today.

This agreement comes on the heels of Saturday’s landmark tentative agreement between Kaiser Permanente and the Alliance of Health Care Unions, affecting nearly 50,000 Kaiser Permanente employees across the enterprise.

We are continuing to bargain in good faith with Local 39 Operating Engineers and the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), and are confident we will reach agreements with these unions very soon. At this time there is no change in the Local 39 Operating Engineers strike. Other unions have not yet rescinded their one-day sympathy strike notices for Thursday, November 18 and Friday, November 19. NUHW, the union that represents our mental health professionals has also announced a one-day strike for Friday, November 19, which remains in effect.

As always, our first priority is our members and patients and we have taken steps to ensure they will continue to receive high-quality, safe care and service should these strikes take place.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter