Kaiser Bargaining Update #8 – September 22, 2023
This morning, our National Bargaining team submitted a 10-day notice to Kaiser Permanente executives that we are calling for our first unfair labor practice strike starting Oct. 4 at 6 am through 6 am, Oct. 7, 2023. Together, SEIU-UHW members will be united in this work action with more than 75,000 Kaiser healthcare workers across California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Virginia, and Washington DC – making it the largest healthcare worker strike in U.S. history.
This three-day strike will be the initial demonstration of our strength to Kaiser that we will not stand for their unfair labor practices. If Kaiser continues to commit unfair labor practices, we are prepared to engage in another longer, stronger strike in November to protest Kaiser’s unfair labor practices, when additional Coalition members in Kaiser’s newest market in Washington state can join us (their contract expires Oct. 31).
This is a difficult decision and we know it will require sacrifices of us all but Kaiser executives continue to bargain in bad faith over the solutions we urgently need to the Kaiser short staffing crisis, and the safety and well being of our patients and workers is on the line.
As frontline healthcare workers, we got into this work to help people. It’s frustrating and painful to watch our patients waiting and suffering, while we burn ourselves out trying to do the work of two or even three people trying to care for everyone.
Kaiser executives have the power to solve this problem. But, despite reporting more than $3 billion in profits in the first six months of this year, they are choosing not to. Instead, they are bargaining in bad faith and continuing to wage their divide-and-conquer strategy, insisting on an offensive raise proposal that fails to keep up with the cost of living for anyone:
- Northern California: Annual raises of 4%, 4%, 3%, 3%
- Southern California: Annual raises of 3%, 3%, 2% (plus 2% lump sum payment), 2% (plus 2% lump sum payment)
Additionally, Kaiser executives:
- Continue to commit unfair labor practices.
- Have failed to respond to numerous dozens of proposals intended to address the growing staffing shortage; and
- Want to slash our PSP bonus to half its current value with an $1,800 max payout; the same PSP bonus they denied front line workers this year while lavishly rewarding every manager and executive.
- Want to eliminate our protections against subcontracting and outsourcing, making all of our jobs less secure;
- Want to be able to require remote workers to permanently report to work at a Kaiser facility with just two weeks notice; Can you imagine working from home for 5 years and arranging your life around that and then getting a 2 week notice to turn everything around and return?
After months of delay, Kaiser finally responded to important issues like minimum wage and shift differentials, but overall, they continue to bargain in bad faith. Check out the complete side-by-side comparison of our SEIU-UHW/Coalition proposals and Kaiser’s responses:
This is a critical moment for us. It will be the largest healthcare unfair labor practice strike in US history, and the only way we will be successful is if we stand together, stay united, and support each other on the strike line.
Questions about the strike? Check out our FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Kaiser Bargaining Update #7 – September 7, 2023
In case you missed our Facebook Live on September 7.
Kaiser Makes Divisive, Sorely Inadequate Raise Proposal
Despite making $3 billion in profits in just the first six months of this year, Kaiser’s millionaire executives are trying to divide frontline workers instead of working with us to solve the crisis in patient care by providing raises that keep up with the cost of living for ALL of our members.
Here is Kaiser’s offensive proposal:
Northern California: Annual raises of 4%, 4%, 3%, 3%
Southern California: Annual raises of 3%, 3%, 2% (plus 2% lump sum payment), 2% (plus 2% lump sum payment)
None of these proposed raises are acceptable. They wouldn’t even come close to helping us keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living here in California.
This is just the beginning of Kaiser’s divide-and-conquer strategy. If we let them get away with attacking our southern California members with lower raises now, next they’ll demand lower raises for Sacramento and Fresno, or they will try to force ALL of northern California to pay for our healthcare because they say it costs more. All of us will fall farther behind with raises that don’t keep up with the rising cost of living. After all we have been through working on the front lines with Kaiser, we deserve to move forward – not fall farther behind.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Kaiser:
- Proposed to slash our PSP bonus to less than half its current value;
- Refuses to raise differentials that haven’t gone up in decades;
- Has failed to respond to dozens of proposals intended to address the growing staffing shortage; and
- Continues to commit unfair labor practices.
The bargaining team rejects this proposal. With inflation and the rising cost of living as they are, this proposal would put us even further behind and make it even more difficult to hire the additional people we need to solve our understaffing crisis.
Angry? Don’t complain, vote YES to strike!
Our bargaining team is calling on every member to go out and VOTE YES to strike to protest Kaiser’s unfair labor practices. The higher the number of YES votes, the stronger our message is to Kaiser that we are united and ready to fight for raises that keep up with the cost of living for ALL of our Kaiser members. The only way we solve the crisis in patient care at Kaiser is to raise pay to retain the experienced workers we have and attract new workers to join us.
Only 6 Days Left to Vote!
Kaiser Bargaining Update #6 – August 24, 2023
Kaiser’s Values are Not Our Values
With 37 days left before our contract expires, Kaiser still hasn’t made any proposal to raise wages for the healthcare workers even after the pandemic and inflation. For three days, management would not present any proposal to our National Bargaining Team. This is unheard of in the 25 years of our partnership. The only economic proposal they made was to slash the value of our PSP by capping it at $1,400. They still do not want to guarantee a PSP payout for us, although managers would continue to get bonuses regardless of Kaiser’s finances. We were clear with Kaiser that this was not something we were going to accept:
Meanwhile, in local bargaining, both UHW and Kaiser identified their top three issues for changes to the purple book. The contrast was stark:
- Raise shift differentials to $2.75 for evening and $4.25 for night
- Provide stability to remote workers that our work conditions won’t change without negotiation
- Standardize appointment times for sonographers to reduce injuries
(Kaiser has not offered any counters to any of these proposals)
- Cruel proposal to terminate workers on medical leave more quickly
- Lengthen probationary period and restrict rights for probationary workers
- Increase availability expectations for on-call workers to the point where having another job would be impossible (UHW agrees with standardizing availability but within reasonable limits)
Staffing: Bandaids but no Permanent Solutions
Kaiser has not yet responded to our long-term proposals around subcontracting protections and eliminating vacancies. However, our Staffing Committee is working on an agreement for a temporary, one-year accelerated hiring period so we can get to 10,000 positions filled by the end of 2023. It isn’t final yet, but we are discussing:
- Mandatory quicker response times from both managers and employees during bidding
- Helping graduates of training programs get into hard-to-fill jobs
- Expanding experience barrier waivers
- Eliminating duplicative testing requirements
- Fixing communication problems with Taleo
- Paid externships
- High volume hiring events
- Hiring more Futuro Health graduates
- Referral bonuses
- Reduction of registry use
- Workers who are transferred or hired during this one-year agreement would commit to staying in their position
We are far from agreement, but on staffing, in the short-term at least, we are having useful discussions and engagement. We have made it clear to Kaiser that while this quick short term action is important, staffing shortages have existed for years and are predicted to continue for decades. We also need permanent staffing solutions in our National Agreement.
It’s Clear We Have to Strike
Based on Kaiser’s priorities, it’s clear we are very far apart. While we continue to insist on wages that keep up with inflation and real solutions to the short staffing crisis, KP management has made no proposal to raise wages, tried to slash our PSP bonus, pushed a scheme to fire sick workers, and is nowhere to be found when it comes to investing in workforce training, limiting outsourcing and so many other important priorities.
On Thursday we held a press conference – that received national attention in the media – to announce that we are holding our votes to authorize the bargaining team to call for a strike when our contract expires on October 1st. Strike votes will begin next week. Check the schedule for your facility and support the bargaining team’s recommendation to vote YES for strike authorization.
Kaiser Bargaining Update #5 – August 2, 2023
Our Economic Proposal to Kaiser
On Aug. 1, we presented a full, comprehensive economic proposal to Kaiser management. Here’s what we are asking for:
- Across-the-Board wage Increases for ALL Regions: Year 1: 7%, Year 2: 7%, Year 3: 6.25%, Year 4: 6.25%. These raises would be greater than anything Kaiser has agreed to with any other unionized group – including the CNA and UNAC RNs – and are the largest raises we have ever asked for.
- $25/hr minimum wage across Kaiser.
- $1,500 minimum PSP payout – we deserve to be rewarded when we meet goals regardless of Kaiser’s financial goals.
- Maintain all healthcare benefits – NO TAKEAWAYS!
- Increase the funding amount for our retirement Healthcare Reimbursement Accounts to $2,500/yr.
- Close loopholes for unexpected plan change and increased costs for retirees – this includes maintaining the current California plan despite the 2018 Southern California aberration.
- Committee on Retirement Investments – joint committee to work together around investments in the KP retirement system.
- Increase shift differentials & classification adjustments in all local bargaining.
- Increase KP’s contributions to all labor education funds to 0.7% of payroll
- $75 million per year for Futuro Health from community benefits funding – funding that Kaiser as a non-profit must use for community organizations that they can not use for worker wages or benefits.
So how did management react? They refused to respond.
That’s right. Refused. No proposals. No counters. No answers to our questions about hiring, about their finances, or about their non-union expansion plans in Pennsylvania. Kaiser management is trying to slow-walk us to the expiration of our contract and it’s clear we need to continue to turn up the heat on them.
Let’s Keep that Picket Momentum Going!
Last week, thousands of SEIU-UHW and other Coalition members held pickets in our first major public action of the contract campaign. To win the contract we deserve, we have to keep getting louder! Sign up for our Labor Day events in Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego!
July 13 – BREAKING: We submitted our picket notices to Kaiser
After three months of little progress at the bargaining table, this morning representatives from all the Coalition unions personally handed management picket notices for over 50 locations in California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. Watch the video to see UHW member Angela Glasper of Kaiser Antioch deliver our notice.
Now we’ve got to make it happen! Sign up for your picket today!
Kaiser Bargaining Update #4 – July 12, 2023
Welcome to the fourth update from your 2023 SEIU-UHW Kaiser bargaining team.
Kaiser’s post-pandemic message to healthcare workers: “You’re Overpaid!”
At bargaining this week, the “non-profit” that pays its CEO $16 million a year gave a clear message to the EVS worker raising a family on $48K a year in LA: “You make too much money.”
It’s unbelievable. Kaiser pays 49 executives more than a million dollars a year, but they think a PCT earning $52K a year in Portland is making Kaiser unaffordable. The corporation that has over $113 billion in investments – including questionable ventures around the world – believes they are paying healthcare workers $450 million a year too much in wages that are “over market.”
We will be submitting a full economic proposal – including wages – at our next bargaining session on August 1, but the fault lines in negotiations are becoming more and more clear: our Coalition spoke about how we are falling behind, struggling to afford living where we work, and losing ground to rising costs. Kaiser spoke about outsourcing more of our work to to low wage, for-profit companies – undermining middle class jobs.
Why Can’t Kaiser See Our Value?
What’s good for us is good for Kaiser – but for some reason they can’t seem to see that.
- We want Kaiser to grow as a union company with leading wages, benefits and quality care. Instead, Kaiser is spending $5 billion of our patients’ premiums to launch a non-union, non-partnership company that will lower labor standards.
- We want a guaranteed PSP payout we can count on when we reach our goals. Kaiser is still defending their shameful decision to deny frontline caregivers our PSP while paying big bonuses to managers who work behind the Zoom camera.
- We want Kaiser to make meaningful investments in solving the staffing shortage: increase training funds, eliminate barriers to promotion, justify unposted vacancies, create paid externships, raise shift differentials that haven’t gone up in decades, provide referral/retention and recruitment bonuses, and dial back wasteful registry spending.
Kaiser’s response is to make things worse. They want to:
- Make it easier to outsource our jobs.
- Lengthen periods to fire workers without cause.
- Deny us a voice in changes to our job descriptions.
- Give them the right to stop our work from home without any process or adequate notice.
- Eliminate the 14-day right to return after a transfer.
- Limit our ability to transfer.
- Limit the rights of our stewards to advocate for us.
- Take away our right to engage in sympathy strikes.
If it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now: we have a fight on our hands and Kaiser thinks we’re bluffing. Luckily for us, we’re not.
So Many Strike Captains!
On July 8, hundreds of us came together to begin our training as Strike Captains. We discussed how to best communicate and share information so that everyone understands what’s happening and why. And this is just the beginning. We’ll be continuing to meet and train and get better in the coming months.
It’s Time to Picket!
It’s clear that the only way that we will get Kaiser to listen to us is to make some noise. We will be picketing in front of Kaiser hospitals across the country during the week of 7/25-7/29. Sign up for your picket today – the more of us that are out on the line, the better our chances to get the contract we deserve!
Kaiser Bargaining Update #3 – June 23, 2023
Welcome to the third Kaiser Bargaining update from your 2023 SEIU-UHW Kaiser bargaining team. This session was dedicated to discussing the Labor Management Partnership (LMP), and we made strong formal proposals to Kaiser management regarding the PSP bonus and the future of the partnership.
We also want to welcome our 54 new IT Support workers from Northern California who just joined us in SEIU-UHW! You make us that much stronger at bargaining.
Our Proposal to Kaiser
You can check out our full proposal to management, but here are some of the highlights:
- Staffing. Building on our agreement with Kaiser to hire 10,000 new workers into Coalition positions by the end of 2023, we proposed language around reducing registry work, creating paid externships, investing in training, and removing even more of the experience barriers Kaiser workers are facing to “grow our own” at Kaiser.
- PSP Bonus. We made it very clear. We expect that when we make our goals, there is a guaranteed minimum payout every year, and we expect that management will share our goals and payouts so we never again have the situation where our bosses get a bonus for work we did.
- Growth. We all want to see Kaiser grow and expand. But any new workers that come in under the Kaiser umbrella – whether it’s here in California or in Pennsylvania or wherever! – have to be part of the partnership and have the right to come together into a union.
Management has yet to respond to our top priorities around increasing differentials and other matters we brought up in the last session, Instead, they have come with more takeaway proposals on steward rights and probationary period. Needless to say, we do not plan on going backward on any of these issues.
Our team also gave management a comprehensive proposal on work at home that would provide fair and consistent standards on schedules, reimbursements. work expectations, and how and when work at home arrangements can be ended. We will continue to push for all of our needs and will report back on our progress in future sessions.
Strike Captains Getting Ready!
On June 20, over 500 of us who have stepped up to be Strike Captains came together to begin the conversation of what it means for us to be strike ready at our facilities. This group will be getting together regularly over the next few months so that if and when a strike happens, we’ll be able to hit the ground running.
Labor Standing Together
While we were in LA, we had the opportunity to join our sisters and brothers of UNITE HERE Local 11 Hotel Workers. Like us, they are fighting to afford living in the city where they work by instituting a $25/hour minimum wage for their workers. And like us, they will very likely have to go on strike to get there. This was incredible way for us to witness and learn what it takes to build up to a strike. Three of our members even participated in civil disobedience and got arrested for the action. Si se puede!
Kaiser Bargaining Update #2 – May 17, 2023
Welcome to the second Kaiser Bargaining update from your 2023 SEIU-UHW Kaiser bargaining team. In the second session, we continued our talks on how to address the staffing crisis, discussed Kaiser’s finances, and Kaiser’s recent announcement to acquire Geisinger Health and start a new company called Risant.
Addressing the Staffing Crisis
We started with a report back from the labor-management task force working on getting 10,000 new hires into Coalition vacancies by the end of the year. Subgroups will be meeting weekly through the end of June to address internal delays in the bidding and hiring system, market limitations for harder-to-fill classifications, collaboration about high-volume hiring opportunities, and providing union leaders in the facilities input into core staffing models.
Kaiser Company & Employee Finances
Most of the second day was spent on finances: Kaiser’s finances, the finances of our pension fund, and the finances of the workforce in a time of unprecedented inflation.
- Kaiser Finances. Kaiser CFO Kathy Lancaster and Senior VP Tom Curtin presented the challenges they see ahead in growing the membership, getting proper reimbursement for care, and managing rising expenses. Our SEIU-UHW President, Dave Regan, presented a counter perspective that emphasized Kaiser’s incredibly strong financial position when viewed over the last five years and highlighted Kaiser’s astounding investment income and management fees, spiraling executive compensation, and out-of-control payments to expensive outside contractors. Even though Kaiser lost money in 2022, it was an outlier, not the trend. Kaiser reported more than $21 billion in profit over the last five years, and their net worth doubled between 2018 and 2022 to $58.9B. Kaiser isn’t a company that’s struggling.
- Pension fund. Some good news that came out of this dialogue was the reporting that the KP pension plan is fully funded for the first time in decades. This means we can feel more secure that when it comes time to draw on our pension and retirement that it will be there for us. We also asked for, and received a commitment from KP leaders for greater transparency around both our pension fund and our 401K investments.
- Employee finances. We also wanted to ensure that Kaiser management understood they are not the only ones who have to manage a budget. Every Kaiser worker is struggling to adjust their family budget to rising costs of living. Shamefully, Kaiser employs thousands of workers across the country who don’t make a $25/hr living wage. Check out our members’ stories in this video we shared in bargaining.
We had our first session of local bargaining (purple book) to discuss topics not covered in the National Agreement. We shared five priority areas with management:
- Increasing shift differentials
- Increasing training and preceptor pay
- Increasing float pay
- Creating uniformity for on-call availability
- Addressing the crisis in workplace injuries for sonographers
While our team was very disciplined and focused, Kaiser management presented a long list of desired takeaways, including giving up our right to sympathy strike, giving up our ability to bargain over changes to our job descriptions, and allowing Kaiser to unilaterally change which areas and positions are designated for bilingual pay. Our team has no intention of going backward.
Why the Geisinger Health Acquisition and the Creation of Risant Matter
We called Kaiser out on the acquisition they announced last month of a Pennsylvania medical group called Geisinger Health and the creation of Risant, a new healthcare company that Kaiser intends to use to buy up health systems. With the announcement, Kaiser not only failed to discuss this plan with its unions, but we learned that Kaiser’s top leaders at the Medical Group weren’t even involved in the deal!
Kaiser’s behavior around the Geisinger acquisition has raised critical questions:
- Is Kaiser going to use California rate increases to pay for the acquisition?
- Does it plan to start growing a non-union, non-partnership company within Kaiser that will create pressure to lower the standards of living for all of us?
- If they didn’t talk to their labor partners or even their doctors, what is it they’re trying to hide?
Coming out of bargaining, it is clear we have to be ready to fight:
- We have to be strike ready and unified across our departments and facilities.
- We have to be ready to take political action not only in California, but also Pennsylvania and Delaware, to raise serious questions about Kaiser’s acquisitions, its impending rate increases, and the lack of transparency of its medical groups.
Kaiser 2023 Bargaining Update #1
April 20, 2023
Welcome to the first Kaiser Bargaining update from your 2023 SEIU-UHW Kaiser bargaining team.
Our first challenge to Kaiser: Hire 10,000 new workers
The biggest issue we have to solve at Kaiser is the chronic understaffing we face in our facilities. And Kaiser knows it too! They shared some eye-popping statistics with us:
- 11.1% of all Coalition positions are vacant;
- The average vacancy takes 80 days to fill (and that’s just the average – we know it sometimes takes more than six months!)
Given the urgency of the staffing crisis, we presented a challenge to management: let’s commit to hiring 10,000 new Kaiser employees into Coalition positions by the end of 2023. And they said yes! To accomplish this, a small national working team of Kaiser and Coalition members will be mobilized to explore ways to:
- Reduce the use of expensive contractors;
- Reduce the overall time it takes to fill vacancies;
- Remove the structural barriers to hiring staff;
- Find inefficiencies in the hiring process.
This group will report back on its efforts at the next bargaining session on May 16.
Watch what your co-workers have to say about understaffing at Kaiser
Kaiser Has the Resources to Do What’s Right
Management spent a lot of their time talking about what a bad financial year 2022 was for them. But here’s the reality: Kaiser’s net worth is $58.9 billion and it made $20 billion in profits in the last five years. It’s not a question of money. It’s a question of priorities and values.
Our State Bonuses Are Finally Coming!
At last, the red tape has been cleared and our California retention bonuses ranging from $1,250-$1,500 will be paid out. Southern California members will see the bonus in our May 5th paycheck and Northern California members will see it in our May 12th paycheck! Remote workers who did not qualify for the state bonus will be getting a $500 bonus from Kaiser on the same dates.
Your 2023 Kaiser National Bargaining Team