Kaiser, unions reach tentative deal, avert strike

Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente and an alliance of unions that includes about 50,000 of its workers nationwide have reached a tentative four-year contract, according to a joint statement.

The deal, reached Nov. 13, averts a strike and covers workers in more than 20 local unions.

In their joint statement, Kaiser and the alliance said the agreement includes new staffing language and guarantees across-the-board annual wage increases through 2025 for all alliance-represented workers. The deal also maintains benefits and offers career development and advancement opportunities for union employees. It does not include a proposed two-tiered wage system that was a contentious issue in negotiations. 

"The Alliance of Health Care Unions fought to preserve a Kaiser Permanente where patients can count on excellent patient care and service. This has guided our work for 24 years. This agreement will mean patients will continue to receive the best care, and alliance members will have the best jobs," Hal Ruddick, executive director with the alliance, said in a news release. "This contract protects our patients, provides safe staffing and guarantees fair wages and benefits for every alliance member."

Kaiser and the alliance began negotiations in April. Staffing and a proposed two-tiered wage system that would pay starting employees less than their more experienced colleagues were among the key sticking points, ultimately leading about 40,000 Kaiser workers in Southern California, the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii to announce plans to strike in November. With the tentative deal, alliance unions have canceled their strike notifications.

"This landmark agreement positions Kaiser Permanente for a successful future focused on providing high-quality healthcare that is affordable and accessible for our more than 12 million members and the communities we serve. It also underscores our unwavering commitment to our employees by maintaining industry-leading wages and benefits," Christian Meisner, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Kaiser, said in a news release. "These were challenging negotiations, but this tentative agreement demonstrates the strength of our labor management partnership and the unique success it can achieve when we work together."

Union members will vote on the agreement over the next several weeks. If ratified, will be effective retroactively to Oct. 1.

Read more about the tentative deal here and here

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