Kaiser workers in California ratify union deal

Kaiser Permanente and a union representing 57,000 of its employees ratified a new contract that will create a $130 million workforce development program and boost pay, the union announced Wednesday.

The Oakland, Calif.-based integrated health system and the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West union reached a four-year agreement to recruit, train and place thousands of individuals in licensed healthcare positions; establish 3% annual raises; promote cooperation between frontline workers and managers; ban subcontracting and limit outsourcing of current positions; and form a committee overseeing technology implementation and staffing.

“Our new contract recognizes the skill and dedication we bring to our work, and the guaranteed raises and protected benefits give us the peace of mind to focus on caring for our patients,” Jessica Rodriguez, an emergency department technician at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, said in prepared remarks.

In a statement, Kaiser said the new agreement is encouraging and it will have further comment after the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions announces final results.

The SEIU is part of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which had been threatening to strike. A tentative agreement was reached last month.

The other 26,000 Kaiser Permanente workers in Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, Washington state and Washington, D.C. represented by the coalition voted to ratify, or are in the process of voting to ratify, similar contracts. Final votes are expected by Oct. 19.