Kaiser Permanente and the Alliance of Health Care Unions

KP and Alliance Kick Off National Bargaining

Portraits of 4 people on a blue background

Clockwise from top left: Valery Robinson, president, USW Local 7600; Janet Liang, executive vice president, group president and COO, care delivery, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals; Denise Duncan, RN, president, UNAC/UHCP; Chris Grant, executive vice president, COO, The Permanente Federation.

Virtual session opens with a call for Partnership

Acknowledging tough talks ahead, KP and Alliance leaders held up their successful partnership during the pandemic as a model to meet future challenges during this week’s virtual kickoff session for national bargaining.

The 2-day session began April 20 with presentations by management and union leaders about their priorities for national bargaining.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler was one of several speakers who presented the union perspective. “Kaiser Permanente’s success has always gone hand in hand with industry-leading wages and benefits and its talented workforce is the reason it is successful,” said Shuler, noting that the Alliance enjoys the full support of 56 international unions. She predicted that negotiations would set a positive example for the health care industry and provide a path of economic opportunity for represented workers around the country.

Alliance Executive Director Hal Ruddick, joined by union leaders, described the losses, trauma, and bravery of union members during the pandemic.  While he expressed optimism about the negotiations, Ruddick vowed that the Alliance would press for a national agreement that preserves the best jobs and best care.

The management perspective was delivered jointly by Chris Grant, executive vice president and chief operating officer for The Permanente Federation; and Janet Liang, executive vice president, group president and chief operating officer in charge of care delivery for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals.

Liang and Grant, noting greater competition and disruption caused by COVID-19, urged management and labor to work together to increase innovation, improve flexibility, and support sustainable wages and benefits. Collectively, those actions will enable KP to continue providing high-quality care and service to our members, patients, and communities.

On the second day, negotiators received training in interest-based bargaining, which calls for both parties to identify common issues of concern and work collaboratively to achieve mutually beneficial solutions.

This round of bargaining marks the second time that KP and the Alliance of Health Care Unions have negotiated a national contract since the Alliance, which comprises 22 local unions, formed in 2018. The current national agreement expires September 30, 2021.

Bargaining sessions are scheduled to run through September and will involve more than 100 management and labor representatives from across the organization.

The next session is scheduled for June 23, when members of the Common Issues Committee (CIC) – the full negotiating team – will meet virtually to hear progress from subcommittees tasked with addressing this year’s bargaining topics. For regular updates, visit bargaining2021.org.

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