Kaiser Permanente unions seek 'hero bonus' for 85,000 members

Healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente across the U.S. are calling for a "hero bonus" for 85,000 members of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, the coalition announced Sept. 28.

Members of the coalition said Kaiser workers have risked their lives and the lives of their families during the pandemic, and they have been exposed to or infected by COVID-19 and deserve the bonuses. They also said the bonuses are needed to retain staff as workers face the flu season and the pandemic continues.

With reported operating revenue of $22.1 billion in the second quarter of 2020, up 3.3 percent from the same period of 2019, Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente can afford the bonuses, the coalition said. 

"As Kaiser healthcare workers, we do our jobs with our whole hearts because we're dedicated to the mission of caring for our communities," Tiffany Powell, a medical laboratory assistant at Kaiser Permanente Kensington (Md.) Medical Center, said in a news release. "We've stuck with our jobs since this crisis began, enabling Kaiser to do very well financially, and now it's time for them to recognize our commitment. Ultimately, that will help retain staff so our patients can keep getting safe, quality care."

The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions represents workers in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Washington state. As part of the effort calling for the bonuses, the coalition said more than 125 Kaiser workers who are union member leaders signed a letter to management asking Kaiser Permanente to reward at least 3 percent of payroll with a hero bonus.

Arlene Peasnall, senior vice president of human resources consulting markets and labor and employee relations at Kaiser Permanente, said the organization has worked with union members during the pandemic to address serious challenges, including protecting employees while delivering care and managing through a global shortage of personal protective equipment.

"Along the way, Kaiser Permanente has provided many special benefit programs and resources this year to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees and their families," Ms. Peasnall said in a statement shared with Becker's Hospital Review. "This includes a weekly child care grant, extended sick leave, as well as a dedicated help line to connect employees with childcare providers, mental health and wellness programs, and other social needs."

"We are disappointed that some in the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions would decide to ignore our successful joint problem-solving process, and disregard the spirit of partnership we have been developing together, and instead launch a public advocacy campaign to promote this new request. This approach is not consistent with our partnership values and not constructive," she said.

Kaiser Permanente pledged to give the coalition request due consideration.  


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