[Dec. 17, 2018] OAKLAND, Calif. – The National Labor Relations Board recently announced that it will prosecute Kaiser Permanente for illegally refusing to negotiate a new contract that covers 85,000 employees in seven states and the District of Columbia, and for trying to set conditions on bargaining that would ban unions from engaging in political action that could affect the healthcare giant.
“The decision confirms what has been clear to workers for months now: Kaiser isn’t the labor friendly employer it claims to be, nor is it as committed to patient care as it claims to be,” said Lanette Griffin, a laboratory assistant at Kaiser Permanente in South Sacramento, Calif. “If Kaiser was committed to improving patient care, you would expect it to want to negotiate a contract to retain and attract the outstanding caregivers who have driven the corporation’s success. But Kaiser is showing its true colors when it avoids bargaining and wants to silence our voices.”
The federal agency’s decision follows a complaint filed in May 2018 by the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which comprises 11 labor unions in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Coalition members unanimously passed a resolution Dec. 15 urging Kaiser Permanente to return to the bargaining table. If Kaiser Permanente fails to settle the charges, the National Labor Relations Board will prosecute the hospital and insurance giant.
Kaiser Permanente recently settled a contract with a different group of labor unions that included the same condition prohibiting those unions from taking political action against the organization, whether through ballot initiatives, legislation or other public policy campaigns. The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions strongly opposes such a proposal, and believes this condition violates their free speech rights.
Since March 2018, Kaiser Permanente has repeatedly delayed contract negotiations with the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions.
Kaiser Permanente’s refusal to bargain comes in the midst of a plan to outsource jobs across California to “save” money, despite the corporation reporting reserves of $29 billion and profits of $3.8 billion last year. In addition, the Kaiser CEO is paid more than $10 million annually, and 30 executives are paid more than $1 million a year.