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Alliance Of Health Care Unions & Kaiser Permanente Reach Tentative Agreement To ‘Avert Major Strike’ Of More Than 50,000 Workers In Several States - Includes Wage Increases & Wage Justice, Major Staffing Improvements, Two-Tier Defeated

Published Sunday, November 14, 2021
by Labor News Services & WNYLaborToday.com Staff
Alliance Of Health Care Unions & Kaiser Permanente Reach Tentative Agreement To ‘Avert Major Strike’ Of More Than 50,000 Workers In Several States - Includes Wage Increases & Wage Justice, Major Staffing Improvements, Two-Tier Defeated

An alliance of Unions representing 50,000 Kaiser Permanente Workers in California, Oregon and six other states a have called off a major Strike Notice after reaching a tentative new contract on Saturday (November 13th) with the Health Care Network.

The Alliance of Health Care Unions and Kaiser Permanente jointly announced the agreement, staving off a potentially crippling Strike in which 32,000 Employees, most of them in Southern California, threatened to walk off the job Monday (November 15th) to protest understaffing and wage cuts for new hires.

Additional Members of the Alliance, comprised of 21 Local Unions, had authorized a one-day "Sympathy Strike" that was called to take place on Thursday (November 18th).

Agreement on the four-year contract includes annual wage increases, while maintaining health benefits for Employees, and new staffing language to continue to protect Employees and patients, the statement said.

The tentative agreements will be reviewed at a Bargaining Delegate Conference this week, then will go to every Local Union for review and approval by their Membership in accordance with Local Union procedures.

"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 of the Alliance. "This contract protects our patients, provides safe staffing and guarantees fair wages and benefits for every Alliance member."

Christian Meisner, the Chief Human Resources Officer at Kaiser Permanente, said the agreement "underscores our unwavering commitment to our Employees by maintaining industry-leading wages and benefits."

The Alliance said it has more than 35,000 Member Employees in California, 6,300 in Oregon and Washington, 2,100 in Colorado, 2,300 in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia, 3,000 in Georgia and 1,900 in Hawaii.

In a posted statement on its website, the Alliance of Health Care Unions said:

Our tentative agreement our Bargaining Team never forgot that our Members faced a year and a half of the COVID Pandemic, working in the most challenging circumstances possible.  Chronic staffing problems that began long before the pandemic became even more troubling when our hospital beds ran out.  Our Auxiliary COVID Units in tents overflowed and crisis standards of care were close at hand.  And still, we showed up.  We saved lives.

Thousands of us showed up for bargaining, too.  We joined town halls, created videos, shared Social Media, spoke to reporters, attended rallies and meetings, stickered up on Union Days, voted to Strike and signed up for picket shifts.

That’s how we won a new tentative agreement with common annual wage increases, no two-tier, improvements to staffing, racial justice language to rectify disparate salaries, benefits raised closer to national standards in regions where they lag, increased funding for our education and partnership funds, and fair contracts for workers who have recently joined the union.

“This was a very hard-won victory and we could not have done it without dedicated, sustained action by tens of thousands of Members,” Alliance Chief Negotiator Hal Ruddick said. “We also are grateful for strong leadership from the National AFL-CIO and all of our International Unions, as well as elected leaders and thousands of Members of the public and our patients who supported us with donations, letters, Social Media, petitions, and more.”

Among the positives of the contract were:

Common Annual Wage Increases Across The Country With NO Two-Tier For New Hires: Our team was able to win the same annual wage increases for all members, regardless of region or date of hire!  These raises are effective on October 1st of the following years: 3% 2021; 3% 2022; 2% + 2% bonus 2023; 2% + 2% bonus 2024.

Better Staffing, Budgeting & Backfill Agreements: Staffing continues to be our top challenge and our Labor Staffing Subcommittee Team worked right up through the final hours to secure new tools to improve staffing transparency and engagement.  Regional Labor Management Staffing Committees will meet monthly to discuss a broad range of specific topics.  There will be monthly discussions with Labor about vacant or modified positions and backfill strategies at the unit or department level, as well as reports about the status of filling vacancies.  Management will share, on a quarterly basis, budget and backfill calculations with information disseminated to the UBT level so that management is accountable for filling positions that can stay open for too long due to “budget concern.”  Labor and management will collaborate to develop strategies to address hard to fill positions and reduce the use of Travelers and Non-Bargaining Unit Temporary Employees.  Unions will get monthly reports about patient satisfaction and access.

For A Further Breakdown Of What Was Won In The Alliance’s New Contract, Go To: www.ahcunions.org/news/2021/11/13/we-did-it-together

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