Kaiser Permanente strike off after deal between unions and healthcare giant

An alliance of unions representing 50,000 Kaiser Permanente workers in California, Oregon and six other states called off strike set for Monday, after reaching a tentative labor deal with the healthcare network.

The Alliance of Health Care Unions and Kaiser Permanente jointly announced the agreement, staving off a potentially crippling strike in which 32,000 employees, most of them in southern California, threatened to walk off the job to protest understaffing and wage cuts for new hires.

Additional members of the alliance, comprised of 21 local unions, authorized a one-day “sympathy strike” on 18 November.

Agreement on the four-year contract includes annual wage increases, while maintaining health benefits for employees, and new staffing language to continue to protect employees and patients, the statement said.

“This agreement will mean patients will continue to receive the best care and Alliance members will have the best jobs,” said Hal Ruddick, executive director of the alliance.

“This contract protects our patients, provides safe staffing, and guarantees fair wages and benefits for every Alliance member.”

Christian Meisner, chief human resources officer at Kaiser Permanente, said the agreement “underscores our unwavering commitment to our employees by maintaining industry-leading wages and benefits”.

Bargaining continues with the local units representing Kaiser pharmacists in Northern California and the Pacific north west, as well as a group of engineers.

“We hope to reach agreements very soon,” Kaiser spokesman Steve Shivinsky said.

The alliance said it has more than 35,000 member employees in California; 6,300 in Oregon and Washington; 2,100 in Colorado; 2,300 in Maryland, Washington, DC and northern Virginia; 3,000 in Georgia; and 1,900 in Hawaii.

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