57,000 Kaiser Permanente workers in California OK new contract

Fifty-seven thousand workers in California have ratified a four-year contract agreement with Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente, according to the union that represents them.

Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West said in a news release that the agreement is a positive step for patient care.

"Our new contract recognizes the skill and dedication we bring to our work, and the guaranteed raises and protected benefits give us the peace of mind to focus on caring for our patients," said Jessica Rodriguez, an emergency department technician at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland. "We are also proud to have negotiated an agreement that is focused on the future and making sure patients have access to highly skilled and trained caregivers in the years to come."

The ratified contract provides annual 3 percent raises in each of the four years and creates a $130 million workforce development program that recruits, trains and places people in licensed healthcare jobs, according to the union. SEIU-UHW said the contract prohibits subcontracting and limits outsourcing of current jobs.

The agreement comes after Kaiser and unions representing its workers reached a tentative agreement last month covering Kaiser workers in 11 local unions under the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. The threat of a nationwide strike was withdrawn last month when both sides reached the tentative deal.

While 57,000 Kaiser employees in California have ratified the agreement, another 26,000 Kaiser workers in Colorado, Washington state, Oregon, Hawaii, Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.,  also voted to ratify — or are in the process of voting to ratify — similar contracts, said SEIU-UHW. Voting is expected to end by Oct. 19.

Kaiser spokesperson Marc Brown said: "SEIU's ratification of the new agreement is welcome and encouraging. Kaiser Permanente supports the ratification process and will have further comment after the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions announces final results."

 

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