Thank You For ALL That You Do
We recently finished celebrating Nurses Week, and during that time it was great to see more than a dozen of our LAMC nurses honored for their above-and-beyond commitment to our patients. Once again, we want to thank every single nurse for your dedication, hard work, respect, and compassion in providing high-quality health care to our members every day.
Negotiations & Contract Update: Where We’ve Been
More than two weeks ago, on April 26, at our 24th bargaining session with the California Nurses Association (CNA), we delivered a comprehensive contract proposal as part of our ongoing and serious effort to reach a contract agreement. As we know, CNA-represented nurses at LAMC have been without any across-the-board (ATB) pay increases for the last six years. We feel such a pay raise is long overdue, and we are working hard to reach an agreement to get it to you.
In our last update, we provided key details of this proposal. In this update, we are providing the full version of the proposal for your review. It can be found online at kpscalfyi.org. We believe it is important for you to have all the facts, and the full details of our comprehensive offer to you. We think this will make it easier for you to get a complete and accurate picture of our offer to make you some of the best paid nurses in Southern California, and this action demonstrates our commitment to reach an agreement with your union.
If you have ideas or recommendations after reviewing the document, we encourage you to please take these to your union representatives. You have the right to actively participate in this process and to ask for a contract.
Our Response to CNA’s analysis
We have seen the CNA’s analysis of our April 26 comprehensive contract proposal. Although the union has not replied directly to our negotiating team, we feel it is extremely important to clarify and correct a few key facts. We also want to note many of the non-economic proposals we’ve presented still have received no formal response from the CNA. Our bargaining team hopes to receive a formal and complete response from the union’s bargaining team when we meet for our next session on May 18. Our goal is to encourage the union to engage with us in a meaningful dialogue and negotiate in good faith, so we can reach an equitable and fair agreement. We feel too much time has already passed and you, as one of our valued nurses at LAMC, deserve a contract with wages that put you on par with our other Southern California nurses now – not a year from now.
Below are the incorrect assertions which we would like to clarify:
- Wages: CNA’s analysis of our wage offer is inaccurate. Our goal is to have LAMC nurse wages on par with those of other KP Southern California nurses. As we have outlined in our proposal, upon ratification of the contract, we would move CNA-represented nurses to a wage structure in the first year of the contract that is well-above the current market. Additionally, there would be further wage increases of two percent in 2017 and another two percent increase in 2018. For additional information on wages in Southern California, click here.
- Nurse Hours: KP is not looking to cut our valued nursing staff, rather we are looking for a better allocation of nurse staffing across the range of patient needs. This is not a new concept. Kaiser Permanente was an early advocate for nurse-staffing ratios, and we continue to believe nurses play a critical role in the quality of the health care delivered. Our nurse staffing levels comply with, and often exceed, state-mandated staffing requirements. We simply want to make sure we are matching nurse assignments where there is the most need for nurses. No nurse should ever be asked to work in a functional area for which he or she is not qualified.
- Pension: KP is not cutting nurse retirement benefits. We are committed to providing attractive and market competitive benefits that are sustainable over time, and also demonstrate responsible use of our members’ premiums. Some specifics you will see in the comprehensive contract offer document:
- Nurses would continue to have a pension and a 401k with an employer match and post-retiree benefit coverage with minimal premium cost sharing after 2017 – something that is almost nonexistent elsewhere in the market today.
- To counter balance the minimal costs that begin in 2017, there would be a $5,000 retiree health reimbursement account that is in addition to the employee being able to retain 80 percent of accrued sick leave for use in a health reimbursement account during retirement.
- At age 65, nurses would be offered an in-service pension distribution. This means an employee would have greater financial options, access, and flexibility by being able to collect their pension at 65 and continue working full-time in their current position, if he or she so desired.
- Retiree Health: Please note these recommendations, as outlined in our proposal, are similar to ones CNA-represented nurses have already approved in other Kaiser Foundation Hospital contracts.
We Are Making Progress
The good news is some progress is being made – although it is much slower than we would prefer. Many of you may be aware there are five equally important steps in negotiating a contract. They are:
Step 1 – Identify negotiation teams
Step 2 – Develop proposal
Step 3 – Negotiate/Bargain –>We are here
Step 4 – Reach tentative agreement
Step 5 – Union member vote and ratification
As we are currently in the third and most critical phase of this process. We are very hopeful CNA will agree it is finally time to meet more frequently and on a regular schedule to bargain seriously and finally reach an agreement for your ratification vote. We can then sign a contract, provide you with the pay increases you deserve, and lock in pay increases for the next several years.
After more than six years of bargaining, with no across-the-board increases and the uncertainty that being without a contract has brought, we strongly believe it’s time for a mutually-agreed upon contract for our 1,200 inpatient, Home Health, Palliative Care, and Hospice nurses. We believe it should be one that guarantees annual pay raises and future years of certainty and stability. We understand a few people have asked why the contract wouldn’t be for a shorter period of time. Given the six years of bargaining we have just been through, we think everyone can agree that neither party would want to go through another period like this again.
Three years is a standard length for most labor contracts. This allows for future planning by both the employer and the union’s members. Signing a contract with a significantly shorter interval (for example, one year or less) would mean we would have to begin negotiations for a new contract almost immediately after the ink dries on the old one. Additionally, a shorter contract would not lock in future wage increases and benefits, it would offer no certainty of future pay increases, have no stability and provide no opportunity for long-term planning on either side.
We’re Ready to Reach an Agreement and Raise Your Pay – We Just Need Your Union to Hear From You.
In short, we believe our nurses at LAMC have gone long enough without across-the-board a pay raises, and are ready to have wages on par with the pay of our other nurses throughout the Region. To accomplish this, we need to bargain regularly, seriously, and in good faith on both sides. We are ready to meet CNA at the table and we don’t need weeks between meetings. We’re ready to reach a contract and include our LAMC nurses among the best paid nurses in Southern California – because we firmly believe Kaiser Permanente nurses are the best nurses in Southern California.