Kaiser, unions agree to deals to avert multiple strikes

Kaiser Permanente and multiple unions have agreed to new deals to avert impending strikes for the nation’s largest nonprofit healthcare provider.

Saturday, Kaiser and the Alliance of Health Care Unions struck a tentative, four-year deal to cover 50,000 employees.

The agreement built-in across-the-board wage increases each year through 2025 for represented workers, maintained medical and dental coverage with continued co-pay rates, and created a new bonus system designed to achieve “new mutually-agreed-upon objectives to address affordability,” the two sides said in a release.

“The Alliance of Health Care Unions fought to preserve a Kaiser Permanente where patients can count on excellent patient care and service. This has guided our work for 24 years. This agreement will mean patients will continue to receive the best care, and Alliance members will have the best jobs,” said Alliance chief Hal Ruddick.

“This contract protects our patients, provides safe staffing, and guarantees fair wages and benefits for every Alliance member.”   

Early Monday morning, Kaiser struck a second, three-year extension with the Guild for Professional Pharmacists, averting another strike set to begin on Monday.

The deal similarly guarantees wage increases during the lifespan of the contract and preserves medical and dental benefits while crafting a new, higher incentive-based bonus system, the two sides announced in a release.

Following swift action to quash strikes, Kaiser said it is still locked in negotiations with Local 39 Operating Engineers and National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), with no change in sight for a strike organized by the Operating Engineers.

Meanwhile, the hospital group announced that unions have not rescinded their notice to engage in a one-day sympathy strike, set for Thursday or Friday, in support of bargaining unions.

NUHW workers, mental health service providers for Kaiser, have notified the hospital group of a one-day strike scheduled for Friday.

Les Hubbard is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.