December 5, 2018
A message to our therapists from Annie Russell, RN, chief operating officer, Southern California Permanente Medical Group; Arlene Peasnall, senior vice president, Human Resources Consulting, National Human Resources, Kaiser Permanente Health Plan and Hospitals; and Maryanne Malzone, interim senior vice president, Human Resources, Kaiser Permanente Southern California Health Plan and Hospitals, with today’s update on contract negotiations with the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) Psych-Social Workers Unit:
Representatives from Kaiser Permanente and NUHW’s Psych-Social Workers met today, December 5, for their 13th bargaining session. During the 5½-hour meeting, discussions centered on incentives and compensation.
Kaiser Permanente reviewed proposed incentive plans for Medical Social Workers and for Home Health employees. NUHW countered these proposals with a request to use the same incentive guidelines from the last contract for the first year of a new contract. Incentive guidelines for the remaining two years of a new contract would be collaboratively developed. Kaiser Permanente will review the union’s offer.
NUHW presented a package proposal that included compensation as well as new, first-time proposals for psychiatry staffing and access. The union’s offer included a call for changes from the expired contract in their Health and Welfare, Retirement, Earned Time off, and Retirement Medical Health Benefits. Also proposed was the restoration of the defined benefit plan, reduced copays, medical subsidy, and a health medical account at levels higher than what existed in the recently expired contract signed three years ago.
NUHW proposed for the first year of any new contract revised across-the-board wage increases and a lump-sum payment, including a new wage increase for its Psych RNs. Other compensation topics discussed include a longevity step adjustment and pay differentials.
While the two sides are still far apart on compensation issues, Kaiser Permanente will review and evaluate today’s NUHW counter proposals.
Kaiser Permanente offered three dates for future bargaining sessions: December 17, December 20, and January 3, 2019.
Based on the continuation of bargaining and the ongoing exchange of proposals, Kaiser Permanente sees no reason for NUHW’s statewide strike scheduled for December 10 through December 15. It will interrupt patient care and could seriously impact vulnerable lives. Additionally, a strike, combined with the union’s negative claims about Kaiser Permanente’s mental health care, may well discourage patients from seeking the care they need. As health care professionals, your patients need you to be there for them. Patients should not be put in the middle of contract negotiations. Nor should our Psych-Social Workers and Healthcare Professionals be asked to sacrifice their income when continued earnest bargaining is the avenue to reaching a labor agreement.
We approach these negotiations sincerely with a desire to settle and reach a fair agreement. We hope the union will work with us to do the same.