Kaiser reinforces commitment to fill 10,000 union jobs

Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions have set a joint goal of hiring 10,000 new people for coalition-represented jobs this year. 

The coalition represents about 88,000 employees at Kaiser hospitals, clinics and facilities throughout the U.S., according to a July 26 news release from Kaiser. The coalition, which is part of the organization's labor management partnership, is bargaining with Kaiser for new labor contracts. 

As of July 26, more than 6,500 of the 10,000 positions were already filled, with recruitment efforts underway to fill the rest, according to Kaiser. 

Available jobs include medical assistants, housekeeping aides, licensed practical and vocational nurses, service representatives, pharmacy technicians, certified nursing assistants and radiologic technologists, among others.

"Kaiser Permanente is consistently recognized as 'a best place to work,' which reflects our mission to provide the highest quality preventive medicine, commitment to eliminating healthcare disparities, and desire to make lives better through innovation, technology and research," Arlene Peasnall, senior vice president of human resources at Kaiser, said in the release. 

"We're a recognized leader in providing market-competitive wages and outstanding benefits in every market we're in. We offer employees opportunities to learn new skills and grow their careers, and we're committed to providing a safe and equitable work environment. We're also proud to be a welcoming and inclusive community where 70 percent of our employees represent racial, ethnic and cultural minorities."

Ms. Peasnall added: "Our priority is to reach an agreement that ensures we can continue to provide market-competitive pay and outstanding benefits. We are confident that we will be able to reach an agreement that strengthens our position as a best place to work and ensures that the high-quality care our members expect from us remains affordable and easy to access."

Kaiser highlighted the hiring efforts in the same week that union members are picketing to protest what they say is a short staffing crisis and its effects on patients and caregivers. 

During negotiations, union members seek safe staffing levels, according to a news release from Service Employees International Union Local 49, part of the coalition. Workers say understaffed hospitals and clinics are unsafe and can lead to long wait times, mistaken diagnosis and neglect, jeopardizing patient care.

"Kaiser Permanente management claims caregivers are overpaid while continuing to demand more from us without providing the staff levels we need and our patients deserve," Don Arndt, Kaiser Permanente lab tech assistant, said in the union release. "Those of us putting our lives on the line deserve great jobs so we can recruit and retain quality staff to give great care to our patients. … Kaiser has the resources necessary to provide those jobs and that care. We are standing united for ourselves and our patients."

Kaiser said that during negotiations, it has emphasized its commitment to market-competitive wages and benefits. It also noted that staffing challenges have been happening across healthcare, and said Kaiser "has weathered these challenges better than the broader market."

Union members began the national bargaining process with Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser in April. Their current contract with Kaiser expires on September 30.

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