Business · Fresno

Kaiser, unions agree to tentative four-year deal to avoid strike

It appears that 1,300 Kaiser Permanente workers in Fresno may not be going on strike after all. The Oakland-based nonprofit health giant and a collection of unions announced a tentative, four-year contract to avoid a nationwide strike in mid-October.

Kaiser and a coalition of 11 unions struck a deal during a two-day last-ditch negotiation stretch.

The deal includes guaranteed wage increases over the four-year lifespan of the contract, develop a workforce development fund for educational opportunities, increases the travel stipend for the company’s tuition reimbursement program by $250, and keeps the healthcare company’s defined benefit retirement pension plan.

The two sides also agreed to a list of jobs that would not be outsourced or subcontracted by Kaiser during the four-year deal. A list of the particular positions was not released Wednesday.

The tentative agreement still must be ratified by the various members of the 11 unions comprising the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions in October.

“We greatly respect and value our employees who deliver on our mission every day,” Kaiser interim human resources chief Arlene Peasnall said in a statement Wednesday. “This agreement is a testament to the dedication, compassion and skill those employes bring to work every day and demonstrates that Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition have a shared commitment to affordability for our members.”

The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions faced a split among unions last March, when 22 unions comprised of more than 45,000 union members broke off and formed their own group.

That group, the Alliance of Health Care Unions, ratified a three-year deal with Kaiser last November.

Last week, the Coalition threatened the largest nationwide strike since a 1997 Teamsters strike, with all 80,000 members set to walk off the job on Oct. 14.

Monday and Tuesday, the two sides returned to the negotiating table yielding the four-year agreement.

“This agreement will allow us to rebuild the worker-management partnership that has been so important to all of us in making Kaiser successful over the last 20 years,” Coalition member, and Sacramento-based ultrasound technologist, Georgette Bradford said in a statement. “Reaching an agreement was not easy, it had lots of twists and turns, but in the end we accomplished what we set out to do – reach an agreement that is good for patients, workers, and our communities.”

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.