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Kaiser Permanente, striking workers announce tentative deal


Walkout earlier this month was the largest for health care workers in U.S. history.

hospital workers on strike: © freshidea - stock.adobe.com

© freshidea - stock.adobe.com

After the largest health care worker strike in U.S. history, Kaiser Permanente and its unionized health care workers have reached a tentative work agreement.

The SEUI-UHW union and Kaiser Permanente today used the social media site X, formerly Twitter, to announce the draft contract.

“The frontline healthcare workers of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions are excited to have reached a tentative agreement with Kaiser Permanente. We are thankful for the instrumental support of Acting US Labor Secretary Julie Su,” the union said in the post. Kaiser Permanente’s post read similarly.

“We are excited to have reached a tentative agreement with the frontline health care workers” of the union, Kaiser Permanente said. “We are thankful for the instrumental involvement of Acting U.S. Labor Secretary” Julie Su, the message said.

Both stated a full announcement would follow, but details were scant into the afternoon of Oct. 13. Even so, President Joe Biden issued a statement on the situation.

“We owe a tremendous debt to health care workers and the hard-working men and women who make their work possible,” the president’s statement said. “I’m grateful to Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions for coming together in good faith to ensure these workers can continue caring for our neighbors and loved ones.

“Health care workers and support staff kept our hospitals – and our nation – going during the dark months of the pandemic,” the president said. “They had our backs during one of our nation’s toughest times. We must continue to have theirs.”

The president also credited Su for her work. Her official biography lists her as “a nationally recognized expert on workers’ rights and civil rights,” with experience in those issues developed as labor commissioner of California from 2011 to 2018.

More than 75,000 employees walked off the job on Oct. 4 and returned Oct. 7, with another strike looming if the parties could not agree on a contract. The striking staff accounted for 40% of Kaiser’s total workforce in facilities around California, Colorado, Washington, Virginia, Oregon, and Washington, D.C.

The unionized staff did not include physicians; their roles ranged from nurses to dietary workers to receptionists to optometrists to pharmacists. In a statement Kaiser said facilities would remain open, but patients could experience rescheduling some non-emergency and elective treatments.

“Our hospitals and emergency departments will remain open. Our facilities will continue to be staffed by our physicians, trained and experienced managers, and staff, and in some cases we will augment with contingent workers,” a Kaiser Permanente spokesperson said.

The workers had grievances relating to staffing shortages, pay, protections against outsourcing, and early notification for remote workers returning to in-person duties.

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