Strike Announced at Los Angeles Medical Center for April 30 to May 2

On April 17, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Union (CNA) informed Kaiser Permanente of the intention of the inpatient, home health, and hospice nurses our Los Angeles Medical Center (LAMC) to engage in a strike beginning 7 a.m., Thursday, April 30, 2015, and ending 6:59 a.m., Saturday, May 2, 2015.

Our first priority—as always—is the safety and care of our members and patients. We have contingency plans in place and are taking all necessary steps to continue providing safe and high-quality health care and service.

LAMC and all of our other medical facilities will remain open during a strike, if it occurs. We don’t anticipate these labor actions will have a significant impact on our ability to deliver care and service to our members. However, to ensure we deliver the highest quality care and service, during the strike – April 30 to May 2 – at LAMC only, we are not scheduling new elective inpatient surgeries and we are rescheduling outpatient surgeries for those days.

This strike action is not about quality or adequate staffing. The quality of care our teams provide at LAMC has never been higher. In fact, just this week, the Los Angeles Medical Center and all Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Southern California received an “A” grade (Spring 2015 Hospital Safety Score) from the Leapfrog Group, an independent advocacy group of public and private purchasers of employee health coverage. Also, last year for the sixth consecutive year, Kaiser Permanente received an excellent rating, four stars, in the “HMO Provides Recommended Care” category of the 2014 HMO Quality Report Card released by the California Office of the Patient Advocate. Additionally, our nursing staff ratios meet or exceed state guidelines.

CNA does not currently represent the nurses at LAMC or any other Kaiser Permanente employees in Southern California. CNA is competing with two other unions to represent the inpatient, home health, and hospice nurses at LAMC. A representation election to be conducted by the National Labor Relations Board is expected in the future.

Kaiser Permanente values our nurses, along with all members of our health care teams. We support their rights to choose whether they want to be represented by a union and, if so, which union will represent them. We will remain neutral in the representation election.

We support our nurses and their right to decide whether or not to participate in a strike. Kaiser Permanente will always protect these rights so that our nurses can make their decisions without fear of harassment or retaliation. We hope they will consider the impact to our patients and remain on the job because this work stoppage is not about quality or workload. In fact, our nursing staff ratios meet or exceed state guidelines. It is critical that we work collaboratively together so that we can continue to provide high-quality care to our patients.

Why is the California Nurses Association Involved?

A unique set of circumstances have arisen to allow a union – the California Nurses Association (CNA) – that does not represent any Kaiser Permanente employee unit in Southern California to support a strike on behalf of the approximately 1,100 inpatient, home health and hospice nurses at the Los Angeles Medical Center (LAMC). Here are the facts:

The 1,100 inpatient, home health, and hospice nurses made up the American Federation of Nurses (AFN) unit that worked exclusively at LAMC. This unit was most recently represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), which had been in negotiations with Kaiser Permanente for nearly five years to establish a contract for this unit and two other Kaiser Permanente Southern California employee units.

On February 12, 2015, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals withdrew its recognition of NUHW as the representative of the AFN bargaining unit. This decision followed a careful review that led to a good faith doubt that NUHW still represented the majority of the employees in the AFN bargaining unit. Under federal law, after the National Labor Relations Board’s certification period of one year has expired, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals cannot recognize and bargain with a union it believes no longer actually represents a majority of its bargaining unit members.

The withdrawal of this recognition changed the status of the affected LAMC nurses from represented to non-union employees. Two other unions – CNA and the United Nurses Associations of California-Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC) – have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to represent these nurses and we anticipate that the Board will conduct an election in the future.

Under federal law governing union representation elections, CNA’s involvement in the LAMC election allows that union to engage in this strike. It should be noted that CNA represents more than 15,500 Kaiser Permanente registered nurses in our Northern California hospitals and medical offices. Kaiser Permanente is not aware of a vote on the part of the LAMC nurses to engage in a strike.

Questions and Answers

1.When will this strike occur?

The registered nurses at LAMC are expected to engage in a strike beginning 7 a.m., Thursday, April 30, 2015, and ending 6:59 a.m., Saturday, May 2, 2015.This work stoppage affects only our LAMC location.

2.Why are the nurses at Kaiser Permanente striking?

This strike is simply a tool being used by the California Nurses Association (CNA) to influence the votes of nurses regarding their choice for labor representation. The CNA is one of three unions that will appear on the ballot in an upcoming election currently pending and yet to be scheduled by the National Labor Relations Board.

3.Why is the California Nurses Association, a union that doesn’t represent any KP employees in Southern California, involved in this strike?

A total of three unions are expected to appear on a future election ballot to represent the 1,100 LAMC inpatient, home health, and hospice nurses. Those unions include CNA, NUHW, and UNAC. We anticipate the NLRB will conduct an election in the future. Under federal law governing union representation elections, CNA’s involvement in the LAMC election allows the union to engage in this strike.

4.Didn’t NUHW engage CNA as a representative for the AFN nurses?

In September 2014, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals acknowledged the designation of CNA as NUHW’s service agent for the NUHW represented employees in the AFN bargaining unit. Under that agreement, CNA staff acted as NUHW representatives for a period of time.  That relationship ended when KFH withdrew its recognition of NUHW as the AFN’s bargaining representative.

5.What is the number of LAMC nurses that could participate in this strike? Approximately 1,100 inpatient, hospice, and home health nurses made up the former AFN unit and may participate in the 48-hour strike.

6.How will this strike affect members’ and patients’ ability to receive treatment?

Kaiser Permanente’s most important priorities are the safety of our patients and the continued delivery of high-quality care and service. We have contingency plans in place to ensure this priority is met before, during, and after the strike. LAMC as well as our other hospitals and medical offices will be open during a strike, if it occurs. We don’t anticipate these labor actions will have a significant impact on our ability to deliver care and service to our members. However, to ensure we deliver the highest quality care and service, during the strike – April 30 to May 2 – at LAMC only, we are not scheduling new elective inpatient surgeries and we are rescheduling outpatient surgeries for those days.

7.What about picketing?

We expect picketing to occur at LAMC. We do not expect picketing to interfere with any members’ or patients’ access to care.