Kaiser, union to resume bargaining 3 weeks into strike

Kaiser Permanente and the National Union of Healthcare Workers have agreed to resume bargaining on behalf of mental health workers who are on strike in California.

More than 2,000 Kaiser psychologists, therapists, chemical dependency counselors and social workers began an open-ended strike Aug. 15 in California.

Now, more than three weeks into the strike, both sides have agreed to resume bargaining on Sept. 8, according to hospital and union statements shared with Becker's.  

Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser said the agreement comes after the health system presented an offer the weekend before the strike including "an economic proposal that NUHW had previously agreed to, with competitive annual wage increases, a lump sum cash payment and a retroactive cash payment of up to $6,300." Kaiser added that its proposal "also addresses the union's demands to increase the amount of time clinicians spend on tasks other than seeing patients, increasing from the current 15 percent to 18 percent of their time."

While the union had agreed to Kaiser's wage proposal, it contends the strike is about patient care.

National Union of Healthcare Workers seeks a contract that addresses "severe understaffing of Kaiser mental health clinics that forces patients to wait months for mental health therapy sessions," the union said.

On Sept. 6, Kaiser offered additional bargaining dates of Sept. 8 and 9, and the union accepted. Kaiser's last offer is also still available for the union to bring to its members.  

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