Kaiser workers set to strike over 2-tiered wage plan: 5 things to know

A proposed wage system that would pay starting employees less than their more experienced colleagues has 30,000 Kaiser Permanente workers ready to strike. The Oakland, Calif.-based system says a two-tiered wage model would help contain costs for consumers, Bloomberg Law reported Oct. 20. 

Five things to know: 

1. The proposed two-tier wage system and a staffing shortage are two of the main factors that pushed many of Kaiser's employees on the West Coast to authorize a strike this month. The vote covered 21,000 workers represented by the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals and 7,000 members of United Steelworkers. 

2. Another nearly 2,000 Kaiser workers in Hawaii voted Oct. 20 to authorize a strike.

3. Union leaders said Kaiser would cut pay between 26 percent and 39 percent for new workers under the proposed plan, according to Bloomberg Law. 

4. The proposed two-tiered wage system would "ensure we continue to be affordable for our members," Arelene Peasnall, senior vice president of human resources at Kaiser, told Bloomberg Law. She said Kaiser workers earn 26 percent more than average market wages. 

5. Ms. Peasnall told Bloomberg Law that the current model is unsustainable. "If we continue to increase costs so high above the marketplace, we will become unaffordable and lose members. And the fact is: Health is increasingly unaffordable, and escalating wages are half of the cost of health care." 

Read the full Bloomberg Law article here

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