More than 85,000 Kaiser Permanent healthcare workers win landmark new contract
On heels of historic strike, on-the-ground engagement from Acting U.S. Labor Secretary Julie Su helped bring sides to agreement
Frontline healthcare workers secure deal for critical workforce investments that bolster patient care
The 4-year tentative agreement increases wages, expands job training, and improves performance sharing plan; now goes to employees for ratification
From Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions:
LOS ANGELES – More than 85,000 Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers reached a historic tentative agreement today for a new contract that will bolster patient safety and make critical investments in the healthcare workforce at hundreds of Kaiser facilities across California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
The deal was reached on the heels of Acting U.S. Labor Secretary Julie Su traveling back to her home state of California to engage in the most recent talks. Su arrived Thursday evening to successfully help the sides bridge the gap on key lingering issues.
“We’re incredibly grateful to acting U.S. Labor Secretary Julie Su and the Biden administration for supporting workers’ right to collective bargaining. Acting Secretary Su was instrumental in advancing talks and helping to facilitate a successful conclusion to these negotiations,” said Sarah Levesque, Secretary-Treasurer of OPEIU Local 2.
“What the parties have achieved here in Oakland demonstrates, once again, that collective bargaining works. When workers have a voice and a seat at the table, it can result in historic gains for workers, their employer, and our country,” said Acting Secretary of Labor Julie A. Su. “The President and I congratulate the parties on reaching a mutually beneficial deal that delivers important stability for this critical workforce, for Kaiser Permanente, and for the patients in their collective care.”
The landmark deal follows months of tireless advocacy from thousands of frontline healthcare workers.
“This deal is life-changing for frontline healthcare workers like me, and life-saving for our patients,” said Yvonne Esquivel, a pediatric medical assistant at Kaiser Permanente in Gilroy, California. “Thousands of Kaiser healthcare workers fought hard for this new agreement, and now we will finally have the resources we need to do the job we love and keep our patients safe.”
Details of the tentative agreement include:
- Addressing the staffing crisis by raising wages by 21% over four years to better retain current healthcare workers
- Establishing a new healthcare worker minimum wage – $25/hr in California and $23/hr in other states where Kaiser Permanente operates
- Protective terms around subcontracting and outsourcing, which will keep experienced healthcare workers in jobs and provide strong continuity of care for patients
- A wide variety of initiatives to invest in the workforce and address the staffing crisis, including streamlining hiring practices, increased training and education funding, mass hiring events, and a commitment to upskill existing workers and invest in the training of future healthcare workers.
“Millions of Americans are safer today because tens of thousands of dedicated healthcare workers fought for and won the critical resources they need and that patients need,” said Caroline Lucas, Executive Director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. “This historic agreement will set a higher standard for the healthcare industry nationwide.”
In California, the tentative deal has set a new potential bar for negotiations already underway at Prime Healthcare and other area health systems. Nearly 2,000 Prime workers are concluding a five-day unfair labor practice strike today as their management threatens and intimidates workers, and refuses to bargain in good faith to fix unsafe working and patient care conditions caused by the short-staffing crisis.
The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions represents 85,000 Kaiser healthcare workers in seven states and the District of Columbia. In April, the Coalition began its national bargaining process ahead of the September 30th contract expiration. The Coalition and Kaiser Permanente had last negotiated a contract in 2019, before healthcare workers found themselves on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic that has worsened working conditions and exacerbated a healthcare staffing crisis.
From Wednesday, October 4 to Saturday, October 7, 75,000 Kaiser healthcare workers held an unfair labor practice strike. The actions, led by workers across multiple states and in Washington, D.C., constituted the largest strike of healthcare workers in U.S. history. On October 9, Coalition unions issued a second 10-day notice for a strike that would have commenced on November 1 and included an additional 3,000 healthcare workers in Seattle.
Frontline healthcare workers in the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions are expected to begin voting to ratify the agreement starting October 18.
Kaiser Also Announces Agreement
OAKLAND, Calif. – Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions are pleased to jointly announce that in the early hours of October 13, 2023, we reached a tentative agreement for a renewed National Agreement, bringing the nearly seven months of contract negotiations to conclusion.
The Coalition and Kaiser Permanente wish to thank Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie Su for her instrumental involvement in bringing negotiations to a close.
The tentative agreement now goes to the more than 85,000 Kaiser Permanente employees who are represented by Coalition unions for ratification. The ratification process will begin October 18. Once ratified, the agreement will have an effective date of October 1, 2023.
The new 4-year agreement will offer Coalition-represented employees competitive wages, excellent benefits, generous retirement income plans, and valuable job training opportunities that support their economic well-being, advance our shared mission, and keep Kaiser Permanente a best place to work and receive care.
The tentative agreement:
- Establishes new minimum wages over three years for Coalition-represented employees, that will reach $25/hour in California and $23/hour in other states where Kaiser Permanente operates
- Provides guaranteed across-the-board wage increases totaling 21% over four years
- Enhances employees’ Performance Sharing Plan with minimum payout opportunities and a substantial maximum payout opportunity
- Increases investments in professional development and job training, and includes other initiatives to help address the staffing crisis in health care
Further details of the agreement will be made available later.
The Coalition unions have withdrawn their notices for a November strike.
About the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions
The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions unites more than 85,000 health care workers at Kaiser Permanente facilities in California, Colorado, Oregon, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.7 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health. For more information visit about.kp.org.