Workers win strong yearly raises, preserve retirement and healthcare benefits, improve educational opportunities, and protect quality care in new 4-year contract.
4,500 healthcare workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington who are members of SEIU Local 49 voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new four-year contract at Kaiser Permanente. The contract settlement will revitalize the long-standing worker-management partnership with the 85,000-member Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, and accomplish a set of goals to make sure Kaiser is the best place to receive and give care.
Some highlights of the renewed partnership include:
- Improved job security with a ban on subcontracting, stronger restrictions on outsourcing, and a process for employment and income security that protects against layoffs.
- An agreement to work with Kaiser Permanente to build the workforce of the future to deal with major projected shortages of licensed healthcare workers in the coming years, so patients can get the care they need from the best-trained staff. This will include an additional $250,000 in Education Funds here in the Northwest region.
- A commitment to revitalize the worker-management partnership to return it to what it has been for over 20 years—the most successful and largest such partnership in the country, and a source of innovation around quality care that made Kaiser great.
- Protecting middle-class jobs with wages and benefits that can support families. The new agreement includes fully secures retirement benefits and protects affordable family healthcare. Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers will receive at least 12 percent in guaranteed annual wage increases over the four-year agreement.
Following the results of the vote count, Kaiser workers expressed pride in their new agreement.
“At the call center, many of us have been concerned about Kaiser contracting our jobs out to the lowest bidder,” said Clinton Kindle, a Patient Access Representative. “Our new agreement protects our jobs, and we’re glad we can assure our patients that their care will continue to be provided by Kaiser employees who take pride in our jobs and our service.”
“I’ve worked for Kaiser for almost 40 years, and I was determined to make sure that the next generation of Kaiser employees has the same retirement benefits that I have,” said Julie Markiewicz, an Auditor II and member of the bargaining team. “We were prepared to go on strike to protect these benefits. I’m proud that we showed Kaiser how strong we truly are.”
SEIU Local 49 President Meg Niemi says contract negotiations will ultimately strengthen the worker-management partnership and give employees the tools they need to continue providing quality care.
“Kaiser healthcare workers have dedicated their lives to caring for patients, and they are committed to renewing our partnership with Kaiser,” said Niemi. “SEIU members protected their right to speak out and advocate for their patients and themselves, which was important in these negotiations. We’re looking forward to working together with Kaiser Permanente to ensure the people who work and seek care at Kaiser continue to thrive.”