Kaiser Permanente employees are set to strike on Wednesday if they are unable to agree to a new contract with the healthcare provider.
While Kaiser remains optimistic that a deal will be reached, the unions say that Kaiser has bargained in bad faith.
Driving the news: The agreement between Kaiser and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions expired this past weekend, and the unions have called for a strike to begin Wednesday at 6 a.m.
- The strike would last for three days and be the largest healthcare worker strike in the nation’s history with around 75,000 people.
- As has been the case for weeks, Kaiser continues to remain optimistic in its messaging, saying that the contract expiration does not mean that a strike will happen on Wednesday.
- If a strike does happen, however, Kaiser has contingency plans in place to ensure that its hospitals and emergency departments will remain open.
Breaking down the negotiations: Kaiser is offering a $23 minimum wage in California starting next year, and its total compensation leads every market the healthcare provider operates in, Kaiser contends.
- The unions are seeking what they call “far and equitable across-the-board” pay increases, calling for raises ranging from 5.75 percent to 6.5 percent. Kaiser has offered raises in the range of 3 percent to 4 percent.
- On the hiring front, Kaiser has brought in over 50,000 frontline employees over the last two years, including 9,800 this year that are employees who are represented by the coalition.
- Kaiser also says the two sides have reached tentative agreements in traveling for continuing education, the use of temporary workers – such as travel nurses – tracking of staffing vacancies and dispute resolution.
- Along with pay increases, the unions are still seeking protections against subcontracting and outsourcing, performance sharing bonus increases and premium subsidy and retirement medical improvements, among other issues.
What they’re saying: “We’ll continue to bargain in good faith until we reach a fair and equitable agreement to ensure Kaiser Permanente continues to attract and retain the best people in health care – and remains a best place to work and get care,” Kaiser said in a statement. “And that includes meeting our responsibility to continue to balance taking care of our employees and being more affordable to our members.”