Kaiser Permanente reaches tentative agreement with health workers

Kaiser Permanente reached a tentative agreement with its more than 75,000 health care workers on Friday, a week after a three-day walkout that disrupted appointments and services at several hospitals and clinics, union officials announced.

The labor dispute is the latest in a series between health care companies and their employees, many of whom have said they are tired and frustrated by severe staffing shortages since the pandemic.

“The leading healthcare workers in the Kaiser Permanente Coalition of Unions are excited to reach a tentative agreement with Kaiser Permanente. We are grateful for the instrumental support of U.S. Labor Secretary Julie Sue,” union officials said. declared At X, the site formerly known as Twitter.

Kaiser Permanente officials issued a similar record Report From the organization’s social media account.

More details are expected later on Friday.

Kaiser Permanente health plans cover 13 million people in eight states through its own network of hospitals and physicians.

A week ago, various low-wage workers participated in a 72-hour strike. Staff includes medical assistants, lab technicians, receptionists and cleaners

The strike forced Kaiser to move many appointments online and postpone non-urgent procedures like colonoscopies or mammograms. The company brought contingent workers to hospitals and urgent care centers, but more than 50 labs in Southern California closed, and dozens of other facilities across the West Coast closed or limited their hours. Union leaders say it’s the largest strike by health care workers in recent U.S. history.

Kaiser’s standoff caught the attention of Ms. Suh, the labor secretary in the Biden administration, who traveled to San Francisco to meet with officials from both sides of the negotiations. Still, more than a week after the strike began and talks broke down, the parties have not returned to the negotiating table; The Labor Alliance will face another walkout – which could last a full week – by early November if the two sides can’t settle a deal early.

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Kaiser’s new contract comes at a pivotal moment in the healthcare labor market, after a significant exodus of workers across the industry, where the supply of workers has fallen far short of demand. The dynamic has created a sense of urgency on both sides: Workers trying to treat patients amid staff shortages are reporting record burn rates.

Analysts say the situation has given unionized workers more leverage at the table, and many are taking advantage of the opportunity. There have been more than a dozen health worker strikes this year in New York City, California, Illinois, Michigan and elsewhere.

About 1,500 health care workers began a five-day strike Oct. 9 against Prime’s St. Francis Medical Center in Lynnwood, Calif. Pharmacy workers at some Walgreens stores in Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Massachusetts walked out on the same day, saying they were overworked and unable to safely fill prescriptions. Without a formal union, they organized on Facebook and Reddit.

The New York State Nurses Association entered into a new contract with Mount Sinai Hospital that includes an enforcement mechanism for nurse-patient staffing ratios.

But companies like Kaiser are under pressure to rein in their costs, and the company insists it needs to make sure its care is affordable. The organization, which had operating revenue of $95.4 billion, reported an operating loss $1.3 billion In 2022. In recent months, Kaiser has returned to profitability.

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