Kaiser Permanente in Southern California is set to strike November 15th, the Globe was told Thursday by a Kaiser physician. The walkout is expected to impact 366 Southern California hospitals and medical centers in Anaheim, the Antelope Valley, Baldwin Park, Downey, Fontana, Harbor City, Irvine, Los Angeles, Ontario, Panorama City, Riverside, San Diego, West Los Angeles and Woodland Hills.
Here is the memo he was sent:
The Orange County Register reported Friday:
Union leaders representing more than 30,000 Kaiser Permanente workers, including nearly 27,000 in Southern California, have given management a 10-day notice of their intent to strike beginning Monday, Nov. 15 over what they claim are proposed wage cuts for new and existing employees.
Workers ranging from nurses, pharmacists and physician assistants, to occupational therapists, appointment clerks and environmental service workers plan to participate in the strike over what the union alleges is Kaiser’s proposal to depress wages for current employees and slash pay for incoming workers via a two-tier wage system that would take effect amid the COVID-19 health crisis.
On Thursday, the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals and United Steelworkers Local 7600 filed a 10-day notice that they intend to stop work on Nov. 15. The warning is required by state law so health facilities can prepare.
Nearly 32,000 health care workers at Kaiser Permanente are preparing to strike starting Nov. 15. Management has refused to #investinpatientcare by denying workers fair wages and additional staff support. Enough is enough. pic.twitter.com/tyZAaJsgZe
— AFSCME (@AFSCME) November 5, 2021
At issue is a proposed two-tiered wage system. Kaiser is proposing lower wages for future hires than for current employees, which they say will help keep costs down without cutting pay, a stipulation the unions emphatically reject, LAIST reported.
Steve Shields, SVP, National Labor Relations & the Office of the Labor Management Partnership, and Jim Pruitt, VP of Labor Relations for The Permanente Federation posted this message on the Kaiser website:
Over the last few weeks, we have been meeting regularly with leaders of the Alliance of Health Care Unions to work toward our shared commitment to reach an agreement that allows us to remain a great place to work while providing affordable care for our communities. We’ve made progress in many areas and are currently focused on addressing two major issues that remain unresolved: across-the-board pay increases and above-market wages.
Across-the-board pay increases: On Tuesday, we offered Alliance leaders an updated economic proposal that provides additional across-the-board pay increases while maintaining all of your great benefits and retirement programs with no take-aways. Our new offer provides you as much as 4% a year in pay increases. Here’s how we get there:
- A 2% across-the-board guaranteed pay increase in each of the four years of the contract — which represents a total $9,360* increase over the life of the contract
- Guaranteed 2% cash payments in years 1 and 2 — which totals an additional $4,680* on average
- The potential for an additional 2% cash payment in both years 3 and 4, for a total of $4,680* on average, if the goals of a new Joint Task Force are met
Improving our affordability: Kaiser Permanente is committed to paying competitive, above-market wages and maintaining our industry-leading benefits. However, we must address our rising cost structure, which is making us less competitive, and threatening our future in some markets. Currently, our represented employees are paid on average 26% above the market — and as much as 38% in some markets. These numbers don’t include the value of our industry-leading benefits and retirement/pension plans. In order to ensure our future, we need to improve our affordability.
New Joint Task Force: To address our affordability challenges, we’ve proposed to form a Joint Alliance and KP Task Force. Using an interest-based approach, the Joint Task Force would work together to evaluate our above-market wages in each market and make recommendations to address the continued escalation of new hire salaries by January 1, 2024. Our offer seeks definitive actions should the Joint Task Force not propose a solution that addresses the escalation of new hire salaries.
No changes to your industry-leading benefits: All Alliance-represented employees will continue to get high-quality medical and dental coverage with the same low copays, excellent retirement plans and job security, and no changes to low health insurance premiums — a plan worth $20,000 per year for the average family. You also remain eligible for a performance sharing plan target of 3% each year, which is approximately $3,510*.
Our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. To secure our mission and our future, and ensure KP remains a best place to work, we are committed to continue bargaining in good faith with Alliance leadership to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. We have a long history of successfully working together to address tough challenges — and we are confident we can work through the new challenges we face today.
Kaiser employees are also preparing to strike in Oregon and Washington state.
The NUHW-represented clinicians have not submitted a formal strike notice to Kaiser, and no strike date has been set. The strike authorization comes as Kaiser Stationary Engineers in Northern California are entering their second month of an open-ended strike and the Alliance of Health Care Unions announced that 36,000 members, including more than 24,000 workers in Southern California and Hawaii, have authorized a strike against Kaiser.
“We’ve been at the forefront in exposing Kaiser’s greed in underfunding mental health care and forcing patients to wait months between therapy appointments,” said Mickey Fitzpatrick, a Kaiser psychologist in the Bay Area. “Now, we have the opportunity to stand together with other unions and show that Kaiser’s greed is harming patients.”
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