East County News Service
September 25, 2019 (San Diego) -- Kaiser Permanente and more than 80,000 union workers reached a tentative contract settlement early today. If ratified by workers in the coming weeks, the four-year agreement between Kaiser and seven unions in six states plus the District of Columbia would avert a nationwide strike that was scheduled to begin on October 14th.
The settlement covers a broad range of workers ranging from x-ray technicians to nurses, optometrists and more.
According to an announcement sent by a coalition of Kaiser unions, the agreement includes:
- A joint effort to revitalize the worker-management partnership.
- A ground-breaking workforce development program providing opportunities for thousands of workers to receive a free education to help fill an expected shortage of hundreds of thousands of licensed healthcare jobs with a culturally appropriate workforce. Kaiser will provide $130 million in funding for the program over the four years of the contract.
- Protection of good middle-class jobs with annual raises of 3 percent in each of the four years for workers in California, with slightly different levels of raises in other states.
- Full protection of retirement benefits for current and future employees.
- A ban on subcontracting and stronger restrictions on outsourcing.
- A committee to work through technology-related issues to ensure patients receive personal care that integrates cutting-edge tools with quality, dedicated caregivers.
Workers had voted last week to strike beginning October 14th if no agreement was reached. Unions had blasted Kaiser for having profits higher than the vast majority of Fortune 500 companies and for paying out hefty executive salaries while skimping on compensation for workers and raising healthcare premiums for members.
Arlene Peasnall, interim human resources officer for Kaiser Permanente Health Plan and Hospitals, says the agreement is a testament to the dedication, compassion and skill that its 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, says reaching an agreement was not easy. “It had lots of twists and turns,” she says, “but in the end we accomplished what we set out to do – reach an agreement that is good for patients, workers and our communities.”