Kaiser Permanente workers ratify new agreement

Roughly 57,000 unionized workers in California from Kaiser Permanente have ratified a new agreement with the healthcare nonprofit. The agreement, which ended a scheduled strike in October by the workers amid negotiations for a new workforce contract, was announced at the end of September.

The new contract met several of the demands of the unionized workers, including $130 million allotted for a workforce development program and protections from outsourcing. The 57,000 workers are represented by SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West. The new contract ends Sept. 30, 2023.

“Our new contract recognizes the skill and dedication we bring to our work, and the guaranteed raises and protected benefits give us the peace of mind to focus on caring for our patients,” Jessica Rodriguez, an emergency department technician at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, said in a statement. “We are also proud to have negotiated an agreement that is focused on the future and making sure patients have access to highly skilled and trained caregivers in the years to come.”

About 85,000 workers were prepared to strike after contract negotiations fell apart in July. The workers’ previous contract had expired in September 2018. The workers accused Kaiser Permanente of failing to live up to its nonprofit status, taking issue with huge raises granted to executives and the hospital network’s low rate of providing care for Medicaid beneficiaries.

The new contract revitalizes the worker-management partnership between frontline workers and managers; emphasizes attraction and retention of quality caregivers with a 3% annual raise for four years; a ban on subcontracting and other limitations on outsourcing current positions; and the formation of a committee to integrate new technology and quality caregivers.