Kaiser Permanente’s Solution to helping the Alliance of Health Care Unions

Brooklyn Rappe, News Editor

There has never been a higher demand for nurses than right now due to the effects of the worldwide pandemic. Hospitals are so desperate for more workers they are even flying out nurses from other states to help. Making matters worse, the Alliance of Health Care Unions announced on November 4th that more than 24,000 nurses and other health care workers working for Kaiser Permanente in Oregon and California would go on strike Monday, November 15th. Thankfully, Kaiser Permanente was able to reach an agreement with the Alliance and the strike never took place. However, the question is how they got in this situation in the first place and does the new agreement satisfy both sides? 

According to the Alliance, Kaiser Permanente let it be known how grateful they were to the workers during the pandemic, but the working conditions and the pay they received did not demonstrate the same gratitude. Kaiser Permanente proposed a new two-tiered system that would turn out to be a major factor in the growing divide between the Alliance and Kaiser Permanente. According to AP News, the proposal would give newer employees lower pay and fewer health protections. The Alliance refuted this proposal with a counter agreement that offered 4% raises for the next three years, and a promise that Kaiser Permanente would hire more nurses to help relieve the amount of hours and hardships nurses endure on a day-to-day basis. Kaiser Permanente responded with another proposal that now included a 1% annual raise for nurses, as well as additional lump sum payments and labor cost reductions. Kaiser Permanente’s position is that this is necessary in order to remain competitive in the market and continue to provide the affordable, high quality care they are known for. The Alliance saw this new proposal as a slap in the face after all the hard work they have put in over the years, hence the 10-day strike notice that followed. 

Kaiser Permanente fought to make an agreement with nurses where everyone was happy but most importantly, where the safety and care for patients would continue to be a priority. The Alliance and Kaiser Permanente reached a tentative agreement on Saturday, November 13, 2021 that ultimately prevented the strike from happening the following Monday. This new four-year contract strengthening the Labor Management Partnership, offers new staffing language to continue to protect employees and patients, annual wage increases and maintain benefits while providing career development and advancement opportunities for employees. 

As one of America’s premier health care providers, Kaiser Permanente is committed to assisting in the formation of the future of healthcare. The organization is continuing to improve, and they are happy to resolve any difficulties that employees may have and encourage them to speak out. The Alliance and Kaiser Permanente are partners in the nation’s most successful labor-management alliance and will continue to thrive together as one to create the best environment for all patients and workers a part of the Kaiser Permanente family.