Kaiser health care worker strike averted as tentative deal is reached, company says
Kaiser Permanente and the Alliance of Health Care Unions reached a tentative agreement on Saturday after more than 30,000 Kaiser Permanente employees threatened to strike on Monday due to a labor dispute. The deal is on a 4-year contract and covers nearly 50,000 Kaiser Permanente health care employees in 22 local unions, the company said, adding that a strike has been averted.
The agreement includes wage increases, health and retirement benefits and bonus opportunities.
Christian Meisner, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Kaiser Permanente, called it a "landmark agreement, while Hal Ruddick, executive director of the Alliance of Health Care Unions, said it "will mean patients will continue to receive the best care, and Alliance members will have the best jobs."
After battling the coronavirus pandemic for more than 20 months, union nurses and support staff were asking for higher pay and better working conditions beginning Monday. Registered nurses, pharmacists, midwives, physical therapists and other health professionals had been expected to hit the picket line had a deal not been reached. Workers planned to strike in Oregon, Washington, California and other states.
The strike was expected to impact 366 Kaiser facilities in Southern California, CBS Los Angeles reported.
Kaiser, an Oakland-based company, had warned its members of a possible disruption to services. The company had intended to keep hospitals, emergency departments and urgent care departments open during any union activity, and said in a message to its members it was coordinating with community hospitals and other needed clinical providers to help with patient needs, according to CBS Los Angeles.
Some appointments, elective surgeries, and procedures — including non-urgent appointments — have already been canceled or rescheduled.
More than 96% of Kaiser Permanente's nurses and healthcare workers, who are members of the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Professionals, voted to authorize a strike last month. Up to 80,000 healthcare workers who belong to different unions had been expected to join a strike in unison, later next week.
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