Strike at Kaiser-affiliated hospitals ends after nearly 2 months

Members of United Public Workers have ended their nearly two-month strike at Maui Health hospitals by approving a new contract. 

The union represents about 500 healthcare workers at Maui Health's Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital, according to an April 14 union news release. Wailuku, Hawaii-based Maui Health is affiliated with Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente. 

Union members, who include nurses aides, respiratory therapists, housekeepers, cooks and other workers, began their strike Feb. 22 following months of negotiations. The strike ended after 87 percent of voting union members decided in favor of the new three-year agreement, according to the union release. 

"The new contract represents months of hard work and determination and is reflective of the sacrifices our members have made during the strike," United Public Workers AFSCME, Local 646, AFL-CIO State Director Kalani Werner said in the release. "Our members labored through the pandemic and have had to continue to endure staffing shortages, so while this is a step in the right direction, there is still work to be done. We will do everything we can to ensure future contracts provide adequate pay increases, fair working conditions, and demonstrate the importance of our members."

The union said the new contract includes pay-scale adjustments, at least a 10.5 percent wage increase for workers, and a lump sum payment for workers, among other benefits.

"Nothing makes us happier than to have our team back together and whole again," Maui Health Interim CEO Kerry Watson said in a statement shared with The Maui News. "We are sincerely grateful to both bargaining committees, our own team and the UPW team, for working countless hours over the last ten months to achieve a fair and equitable agreement for our employees.

"There are really no words to express our gratitude for our team of employees and providers. Despite the mountain of challenges they've faced through COVID and the past almost eight weeks of the strike, they worked tirelessly to ensure our patients receive safe, quality and compassionate care."

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