Union members at Kaiser Permanente approved a four-year agreement covering more than 85,000 workers that includes big wage gains and protections against job outsourcing.
The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions announced Thursday that 98.5% of coalition members voted in favor of the contract, which is retroactive to Oct. 1. The labor agreement covers frontline healthcare workers in Kaiser facilities in seven states, ranging from call center staff and certified nursing assistants to pharmacy and surgical technicians.
The contract includes pay increases of 21% over four years and minimum wages of $25 per hour in California, where it was just mandated by law, and $23 per hour in other states. As part of Kaiser Permanente’s performance-sharing plan, members will have access to higher minimum and maximum bonuses for each goal the system meets for attendance, patient survey scores, flu vaccination rates and blood pressure rates.
The agreement is effective through Sept. 30, 2027.
“We look forward to working together through the Labor Management Partnership to advance our mission of providing high-quality, affordable health care services and improving the health of our members and the communities we serve,” the health system said in a statement.
Employees expect the contract will help facilities better recruit and retain employees to mitigate ongoing staffing crises, said Jelani Moses, a cashier receptionist at the system’s San Ramon Regional Medical Center and a bargaining team member with SEIU-UHW, one of the unions in the coalition.
“It sets a higher standard for the healthcare industry across the nation that I hope other companies and labor unions see and try to reach,” Moses said.
In addition to bonuses, the contract includes provisions to prevent labor outsourcing and subcontracting, and funds more professional development opportunities for employees.
Without the constant threat of outsourcing, workers are able to feel more secure in their employment, said Rashaad Pritchett, a bargaining team member and housekeeping aide at Kaiser Permanente’s medical center in Richmond, California.
“Being able to have that wage increase of 21% over the next four years makes me want to stay even more,” Pritchett said. “I feel like I'm appreciated, and while it's not all about the money, we need money to survive.”
Nationally, thousands of healthcare workers are in various stages of organizing, bargaining and taking labor actions to advocate for better benefits and staffing levels.
In Washington state, around 1,300 nurses are set to strike at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Tuesday if contract negotiations fail. Represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, the workers claim chronic understaffing at the hospital is hurting patient safety.
On the East Coast, nurses at Ascension Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore voted this month to join the National Nurses Organizing Committee, an affiliate of National Nurses United. The union will represent more than 500 registered nurses at Saint Agnes.