Unions approve 4-year contract with Kaiser

About 50,000 workers represented by local unions nationwide have approved a four-year contract with Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente.  

In a joint statement, the organizations said the agreement includes guaranteed annual, across-the-board wage increases through 2025 in every region for all employees, who are represented by local unions that are part of the Alliance of Health Care Unions. Other provisions cited in the statement include family medical and dental coverage with the same copays for prescriptions and office visits; new staffing language related to patient and worker safety; and career development and advancement opportunities.

"Our members have resoundingly endorsed a new national agreement that ensures Kaiser Permanente members can count on excellent care and service, and union members can count on the best jobs and benefits," Hal Ruddick, executive director with the alliance, said in a news release. "These negotiations were difficult, especially as our members are still battling the pandemic, but in the end the parties affirmed a joint commitment to working together, in partnership, to ensure the best future for union members, Kaiser Permanente, and our patients."

The contract, which is retroactively effective Oct. 1, comes nearly a month after a tentative labor deal was reached in November. With that tentative deal, a strike was averted.

"This contract reflects our deep appreciation for the extraordinary commitment and dedication of our employees throughout our response to the COVID-19 pandemic while also ensuring that we remain affordable for our members in the future," Christian Meisner, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Kaiser, said in a news release. "We look forward to working together with our labor partners to implement the contract and further our mission of providing high-quality, affordable care."

More than 20 local unions are part of the Alliance of Health Care Unions, representing Kaiser workers in Southern California; Northern California; Oregon and Washington; Colorado; Maryland, Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia; Georgia; and Hawaii. 

Kaiser and the alliance said the contract will go into effect for all union members except members of one bargaining unit, representing 1,500 United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals pharmacists in Southern California. That bargaining unit, which did not ratify the agreement, will return to negotiations with Kaiser. 

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