About 21,000 healthcare workers plan to strike against Kaiser Permanente over their salary proposals that are expected to impact more than 300 hospitals in Southern California.
About 3,000 nurses and other health care workers in San Diego County are planning to join the strike against the hospital system on November 15.
In a statement, Kaiser Permanente said: âIf a strike does occur, our facilities will be staffed with our trained and experienced managers and emergency personnel to bring in as needed, and our doctors will continue to be available to treat patients. patients. They are ready to take care of patients during the strike. “
After a long year and a half for healthcare workers during the pandemic, the United Nurses Associations of California / Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC / UHCP) share the frustration of their union members.
âWe all had to buckle up and do what we could do to get over it and it made it very difficult physically and mentally,â said Rob Jones, nurse at Kaiser Permanente Zion Medical Center.
Jones has worked in the emergency department for more than a decade and said the toll of working in a hospital during the pandemic was heavy and even influenced some to choose a different profession.
âIf we’re in short supply nationwide and you’re cutting wages, how is that going to affect your recruiting,â Jones asked.
Kaiser Permanente’s senior vice president of human resources shared a statement with NBC 7 saying the challenge they face is the “increasingly unaffordable cost of healthcare. And the point is that wages and benefits social services represent half of the operational costs of Kaiser Permanente. “
“Strike is the last resort, of course we always want our members to be there for the patients and the community and you know, as a team,” said Charmaine Morales, nurse and executive vice president of UNAC / UHCP .
Morales said they negotiated with Kaiser nationally and locally, but the lack of an agreement got them to this point.
âWe have proposed salary increases of 4% for each year, for a three-year contract. We said no to their two tier pay system and we still had a number of other outstanding issues, âMorales said.
The strike is expected to begin in two weeks, unless an agreement is reached between the union and Kaiser beforehand. The hospital system says its proposal aims to slow the significant growth in compensation relative to the market while continuing to reward its employees and deliver on its commitment to its members and patients.
Kaiser Permanente’s full statement reads as follows:
Statement from Arlene Peasnall, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is arguably one of the most worker-friendly organizations in the United States. Our history and our future are deeply linked to organized work. Unions have always played an important role in our efforts to provide more people with access to high quality care and to make care more affordable.
We have been engaged in national negotiations with the Alliance of Health Care Unions since April and have made progress in many important areas, reaching tentative agreements on the funding of a Workforce Development Trust and several recommendations from subcommittees. We have been meeting regularly since the end of September and believe that an agreement meeting the interests of all is quite possible.
The challenge we are trying to address in partnership with our unions is the increasingly unaffordable cost of health care. And the point is, salaries and benefits are half of Kaiser Permanente’s operational costs.
In our 24 years of union partnership, we – the unions and management – have negotiated wages and benefits primarily at the national level, so wages have not always been adapted to the markets in which we operate. As a result, over time in many areas our wage rates have increased to the point that our union-represented employees earn around 26% above the average market wage, and in some places it’s 38 % above the market. These numbers do not include the value of our industry-leading benefits and pension and retirement plans, as well as the ability to earn an additional 3% bonus each year, based on our performance.
We ask our union partners to work with us to resolve this very real problem through an interest-based process, just as we have done with other challenges during our partnership.
On November 2, Kaiser Permanente offered Alliance leaders an updated economic proposal that offers employees represented by the Alliance up to 4% per year in pay increases, with no benefits for employee benefit programs. and retirement market leaders. The proposed salary increases are in addition to the already market-leading salaries and benefits our employees receive, as confirmed by independent salary surveys and the government’s own data compiled by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Our proposal is simply to slow the significant growth in compensation relative to the market while continuing to reward our employees and deliver on our commitment to our members and patients to provide high quality and affordable healthcare.
We remain committed to working with unions for the good of our workforce, our members and the communities that rely on us. We believe we can reach an agreement with the Alliance that meets our common interests and avoids an unnecessary and harmful strike, especially as we continue to fight this pandemic.
If a strike does occur, our facilities will be staffed with our trained and experienced managers and emergency personnel to bring in as needed, and our doctors will continue to be available to care for patients.