Union suit against Kaiser takeover of Maui hospitals dismissed: 4 things to know

A federal judge has thrown out a union lawsuit that could have been a potential roadblock for Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente to manage the three state-owned hospitals in Maui County, beginning July 1, according to a report from The Maui News.

Here are four things to know about the lawsuit.

1. The lawsuit was filed by the United Public Workers.

2. The union in August sought an injunction to block Kaiser's takeover of the financially struggling Maui hospitals, which include Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lanai Community Hospital. The union, which represents about a quarter of the 1,500 workers at Maui Memorial Medical Center, claimed legislation signed by Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D), allowing for the state to enter into a public-private partnership involving the Maui hospitals, was unconstitutional because it impaired a contract between the union and the state, according to The Maui News.

Commenting on the lawsuit, UPW State Director Dayton Nakanelua said, "Privatization of our state hospitals would have a profound effect on the communities they were originally intended to serve. We're already seeing how layoffs at several of our hospitals are not only affecting those who work there, but also patients and their families, as well as diminishing our ability to care for an aging population in the future. We have to keep in mind that healthcare is about people, and people should be the number one priority."

3. In response, the state has said the legislation did not "impinge upon" collective bargaining agreements, and noted that the union will be able to enter into collective bargaining agreements with the private entity, Kaiser, according to the report. According to the report, the state also noted that Hawaii Health System Corp. already had the authority to take certain actions, including reducing staff, before the legislation was signed.

4. U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor denied the UPW's motion for the injunction and granted the state's motion to dismiss the case, according to the report.


More articles on workforce and labor management:

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NY nurses urge lawmakers to pass staffing legislation: 7 things to know
Kindred Hospital Westminster nurses ratify contract: 3 things to know

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