'We have not lost our way': Kaiser CEO's memo to staff after Labor Day protests

Bernard J. Tyson, chairman and CEO of Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente, sent a memo to his staff Sept. 3 to address Labor Day protests employees held in five cities amid threats of a potential nationwide strike.  

In the memo, obtained by Becker's Hospital Review, Mr. Tyson claims leaders of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers used the protests to "deliver a false narrative" and "misconstrue what is really happening with [contract] negotiations."

SEIU-UHW is one of the 16 international unions representing Kaiser employees, and one of three unions that form the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. The coalition's bargaining team and Kaiser have been negotiating a new contract for workers, as the current contract is set to expire this month. The coalition alleges Kaiser is using unfair labor practices and prioritizing profits over patients. Last month, union members voted to authorize a nationwide strike that would affect more than 80,000 Kaiser employees nationwide.

"Kaiser Permanente has put multiple options on the table for Coalition/SEIU-UHW leadership to consider, and we remain open to these options within the established parameters consistent with all our 60 unions," Mr. Tyson wrote in the memo. The 16 international unions that represent Kaiser employees are divided into 60 local unions, each of which has its own contract.

Mr. Tyson said Kaiser has always been committed to working collaboratively and forging positive relationships with the unions representing its 165,000 employees.

"Going forward, we will respond more definitively to allegations against our organization's stellar brand and reputation. We have not lost our way," Mr. Tyson wrote. "We have an incredible workforce and will always treat them with dignity and respect, along with offering market competitive wages and benefits fit for the times."

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