Kaiser, union urged to protect jobs in LA

Los Angeles is calling on Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente and the union representing 55,000 Kaiser employees to collaborate on keeping and growing healthcare jobs in the Woodland Hills, Hollywood and North Hollywood communities.

"As a major employer in … Los Angeles, including the communities of Woodland Hills, Hollywood and North Hollywood, Kaiser Permanente should be committed to growing and retaining jobs, which are key components of a healthy local economy and vibrant quality of life for residents of Los Angeles," states a resolution from city council members.

"Los Angeles urges Kaiser Permanente and Service Employees International Union–United Healthcare Workers West to discuss, in good faith, a mutually beneficial strategy to preserve and grow good-paying jobs that provide the best healthcare services and programs for the people of Los Angeles."

John Nelson, vice president of communications for Kaiser, told Becker's Hospital Review the resolution urges both groups to work together to grow and retain jobs, and "is in keeping with the effective, progressive relationships we have maintained with the other unions representing our employees."

The city's resolution comes as Kaiser is implementing changes at its southern California call centers. Union officials claim Kaiser plans to lay off 34 couriers at a North Hollywood lab and move 272 call center employees in Hollywood elsewhere in California to cut costs. They contend those call center employees will see pay reduced by $2 per hour as a result of the move.

Before the resolution, other elected officials in Los Angeles County have expressed concerns about Kaiser's plans, including U.S. representatives, California senators, California Assembly member Laura Friedman, members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and other local and state officials.

However, Mr. Nelson described the union's claims of layoffs or relocations at Kaiser call centers "simply not true."

"We are making improvements to our seven appointment call centers in southern California to ensure we can continue to provide high quality, convenient care to our members that is also more affordable," he told Becker's. "Whenever business conditions do require us to make changes to staffing, we communicate transparently and thoughtfully and well in advance with union leadership. In addition, where such decisions are unavoidable, we provide tools and assistance, including up to one year of salary and benefits equal to the affected employees' then-current compensation, to support affected employees and help them gain other employment opportunities. We can also tell you that in such cases we have demonstrated our ability to successfully redeploy the vast majority of affected employees."

Mr. Nelson also noted that Kaiser has added more than 13,000 jobs in California since 2015, has more than 12,000 open staff positions and will continue to hire workers.


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