Strike averted: Kaiser, SoCal health care workers reach tentative deal
More than 20,000 Kaiser Permanente nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists and other health care workers will not be going on strike Monday, following a tentative labor deal.
Kaiser Permanente and the unions have been negotiating for months. But feeling there was no other option, workers authorized the strike in October. They gave their required 10-day walkout notice last week, and were ready to hit the picket lines.
On Saturday morning both sides were able to come to a tentative agreement to avoid employees walking off the job.
“The Alliance of Health Care Unions fought to preserve a Kaiser Permanente where patients can count on excellent patient care and service," said Hal Ruddick, executive director of the Alliance of Health Care Unions.
The alliance covers nearly 50,000 Kaiser employees across 22 local unions.
“This contract protects our patients, provides safe staffing, and guarantees fair wages and benefits for every alliance member,” he said.
RELATED: If no deal reached, thousands Kaiser Permanente workers plan to strike Monday
A major point of contention during negotiations was a proposal by Kaiser to pay new hires less than current staff. The union called it a "two-tier" wage system that would only hurt employees. That proposal was not included in this tentative agreement. Union representatives had said they would not budge on the issue.
“These were challenging negotiations, but this tentative agreement demonstrates the strength of our Labor Management Partnership and the unique success it can achieve when we work together,” said Christian Meisner, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Kaiser Permanente. "This landmark agreement positions Kaiser Permanente for a successful future focused on providing high-quality health care that is affordable and accessible for our more than 12 million members and the communities we serve."
The tentative agreement includes across-the-board wage increases through 2025 with no changes to benefits. If ratified by a majority of union members, it would take effect retroactively of Oct. 1, 2021. The previous labor contract expired at the end of September.