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Kaiser, Health Care Unions Reach Agreement; Strike Averted

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Kaiser Permanente management and its hospital workers reached a tentative labor agreement Saturday morning, averting what would have been one of the largest strikes in the country's healthcare industry in recent memory.

The agreement between Kaiser and the Alliance of Health Care Unions applies to a four-year contract covering nearly 50,000 Kaiser Permanente health care employees in 22 local unions.

The agreement includes new staffing language to continue to protect employees and patients and annual wage increases.

It maintains benefits while providing career development and advancement opportunities for Alliance union-represented employees, according to a joint statement issued by management and the union alliance.

When ratified, the agreement will ensure Kaiser Permanente patients continue to receive safe, high-quality care and service; maintain Alliance union members' industry-leading wages and benefits; and ensure Kaiser Permanente remains affordable for its members in the future.

"The Alliance of Health Care Unions fought to preserve a Kaiser Permanente where patients can count on excellent patient care and service. This agreement will mean patients will continue to receive the best care, and Alliance members will have the best jobs," said Hal Ruddick, Executive Director, Alliance of Health Care Unions, in a statement.

"This landmark agreement ... underscores our unwavering commitment to our employees by maintaining industry-leading wages and benefits," said Christian Meisner, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Kaiser Permanente.

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