Kaiser Permanente and more than 80,000 of its union workers reached a tentative contract settlement early Wednesday.
In a statement, the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Union said the tentative pact “will revitalize the long-standing worker-management partnership and accomplish a set of goals to make sure Kaiser is the best place to receive and give care.”
If ratified by workers, the four-year agreement between Kaiser and seven unions in six states — including California — and the District of Columbia would avert a nationwide strike set for Oct. 14.
Contracts Expired September 2018
The previous contracts expired in September of last year. Tensions between employees and the healthcare giant then escalated until Wednesday’s tentative agreement.
“We greatly respect and value our employees who deliver on our mission every day,” said Arlene Peasnall, interim chief human resources officer, Kaiser Permanente Health Plan and Hospitals. “This agreement is a testament to the dedication, compassion, and skill those employees bring to work every day and demonstrates that Kaiser Permanente and the coalition have a shared commitment to affordability for our members.”
Georgette Bradford, an ultrasound technologist at Kaiser-Sacramento, said: “Reaching an agreement was not easy, it had lots of twists and turns, but in the end, we accomplished what we set out to do — reach an agreement that is good for patients, workers and our communities.”
New Contract Highlights
The agreement includes guaranteed wage increases through 2023, preservation of a defined benefit pension plan, protections against outsourcing work performed by union members, and a $130 million education fund for Kaiser Permanente employees seeking career advancement.
The coalition of unions announced in mid-September that workers would strike for one week in October if negotiations didn’t prove successful. The various unions largely represent all healthcare staff except doctors, registered nurses, and mental health workers.
It was to be the largest strike of U.S. employees since 185.000 Teamsters walked out at United Parcel Service in 1997, according to the coalition of Kaiser unions.