FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 9, 2023
MEDIA CONTACT: [email protected]
OAKLAND, Calif. – In a historic victory for frontline healthcare workers, more than 85,000 Kaiser Permanente workers have overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new contract that will bolster patient safety, make critical investments in the healthcare workforce, and set a higher standard for the healthcare industry nationwide. Approved by a margin of 98.5%, the four-year contract is in effect from October 1, 2023, to September 30, 2027, at hundreds of Kaiser facilities across California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
The landmark new contract follows months of tireless advocacy from tens of thousands of frontline healthcare workers, including a three-day unfair labor practice strike in early October. A tentative agreement was reached on October 13 following Acting U.S. Labor Secretary Julie Su’s engagement to help Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions successfully bridge the gap on key issues.
“This is more than a contract – it signals a new day for frontline healthcare workers and for patient safety across Kaiser facilities,” said Angelica Mateo, a licensed vocational nurse at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center Clinics. “When healthcare workers stand shoulder-to-shoulder to fight for our patients and our jobs, we can win.”
Crucially, the new contract contains strong commitments on wages, hiring, and training that will allow Kaiser Permanente to recruit and retain experienced professionals and improve patient care. Contract terms include:
“Tens of thousands of healthcare workers have been fighting with one goal in mind: to finally have the resources they need to keep patients safe. Today, we celebrate a huge step forward in addressing persistent staffing problems,” said Caroline Lucas, Executive Director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. “This new contract is not only a victory for Kaiser’s patients and employees, but for all frontline healthcare workers and those who rely on them in our moments of need. When healthcare workers win, we all win.”
The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions represents 85,000 Kaiser healthcare workers in seven states and the District of Columbia. In April, the Coalition began its national bargaining process ahead of the September 30th contract expiration. The Coalition and Kaiser Permanente had last negotiated a contract in 2019 before healthcare workers found themselves on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic that has worsened working conditions and exacerbated a healthcare staffing crisis.
From Wednesday, October 4 to Saturday, October 7, 75,000 Kaiser healthcare workers held an unfair labor practice strike. The actions, led by workers across multiple states and in Washington, D.C., constituted the largest strike of healthcare workers in U.S. history. On October 9, Coalition unions issued a second 10-day notice for a strike that would have commenced on November 1 and included an additional 3,000 healthcare workers in Seattle but was withdrawn upon the tentative agreement.
“Frontline healthcare workers across states, facilities, and professions have shown the world what is possible through unity,” said Dave Regan, President of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW). “We want to express our profound gratitude to Acting U.S. Labor Secretary Julie Su and the Biden administration for their support of workers’ right to bargain collectively and their efforts to help reach an agreement that addresses the staffing challenges facing healthcare workers and their patients.”
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SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is a healthcare justice union of more than 100,000 healthcare workers, patients, and healthcare activists united to ensure affordable, accessible, high-quality care for all Californians, provided by valued and respected healthcare workers. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.
The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions unites more than 85,000 healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente facilities in California, Colorado, Oregon, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington.