Amid strike plans, Kaiser offers 21.25% in wage increases

As more than 21,000 of its nurses in Northern California plan to strike for two days, Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente said it has put an offer on the table, which includes 21.25 percent in wage increases over four years.

Kaiser is in negotiations with the California Nurses Association, which represents about 21,000 nurses at Kaiser locations in Northern California, according to a health system statement shared with Becker's.

During negotiations, both sides "have been making steady progress," including in a session Nov. 10, Kaiser said.

"We have already reached important agreements in bargaining on safety, diversity and other important matters," the health system said.

In the Nov. 10 session, Kaiser said it put forth an offer with "higher annual raises for our nurses than we have been able to offer for decades — 21.25 percent in wage increases over four years of the contract. Our proposal is driven by the changing economy, including inflation, significant changes in the marketplace and our commitment to providing our employees with excellent pay and benefits."

Also, on Nov. 10, union members in Northern California announced plans to strike Nov. 21 and Nov. 22. The California Nurses Association said the strike would be one of the nation's largest among private-sector nurses.

The union told Becker's that the main issues for the nurses are safe staffing and safe patient care.

According to a Nov. 10 news release, nurses specifically seek minimum staffing guidelines that ensure safe patient care, increased hiring and training, and job protections against subcontracting and outsourcing.

"We always want to give our patients the best care, but Kaiser refuses to provide the resources we need to do our jobs safely," California Nurses Association President Cathy Kennedy, RN, said in the release. "We are chronically short-staffed, which means patients are waiting longer for care."

Kaiser disputes the union's claims, saying it has engaged in aggressive recruitment and hiring, and meets or exceeds state-mandated staffing ratios.

In addition to the Northern California nurses, the union also represents 1,200 nurses at Los Angeles Medical Center.

Kaiser said it participated in a bargaining session on behalf of the Southern California nurses Nov. 11 and aims "to reach a mutually agreeable solution that recognizes the nursing wage rates in the Los Angeles market, our current economic realities, and the inflationary environment of today."

Nurses at the Los Angeles hospital also plan to hold a two-day strike beginning Nov. 21.

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