On the Picket Line

Kaiser hospital workers unions reach tentative agreement

By Deborah Liatos
November 29, 2021

LOS ANGELES —Two days before 32,000 Kaiser Permanente hospital workers at 350 facilities in California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii were set to go on strike, a tentative agreement was reached between the Alliance of Health Care Unions and hospital bosses Nov. 13. The AHCU is a coalition of several different unions representing nurses, cleaning staff, pharmacy workers and others.

A key issue was the bosses’ demands for a divisive two-tier wage setup where all workers hired after Jan. 1, 2023, would receive 26% to 39% less than current workers. Under the pressure of the strike deadline, management dropped the demand.

The agreement includes the same annual wage increases for all union members, regardless of region or date of hire. Yearly raises effective on Oct. 1 each year are 3% in 2021, 3% in 2022, 2% plus a 2% bonus in 2023, and 2% plus a 2% bonus in 2024.

“We did unimaginable things, put ourselves in harm’s way, worked long hours, took things home to our families. It was very insulting after a pandemic,” registered nurse Kimberly Mullen told the New York Times. “We were all feeling — I don’t know any other word — backstabbed.”

The union is still fighting for increased staffing levels.

The agreement now goes to the union memberships for a vote.