Tens of thousands of health care workers have successfully ratified a new four-year contract with Kaiser Permanente, settling a strike over wages and staffing levels. The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions reported that 98.5% of its 85,000 members voted to ratify the contract, effective retroactively from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, 2027.
Key aspects of the deal involve establishing minimum hourly wages at $25 in California and $23 in other states, along with a substantial 21% wage increase spanning the contract's duration. The agreement addresses concerns about subcontracting and outsourcing, focusing on investing in the existing workforce to tackle the staffing crisis. Notably, the previous contract was negotiated in 2019, predating the COVID-19 pandemic.
The three-day strike involved 75,000 workers across California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, as well as support from 180 workers in Virginia and Washington, D.C. Strikers, including licensed vocational nurses, home health aides, ultrasound sonographers, and various technicians, emphasized concerns about Kaiser's profits benefiting from understaffing at the expense of patient well-being.
Oakland, California-based Kaiser has hospitals and clinics that serve nearly 13 million Americans, and union members said understaffing is boosting the hospital system’s profits but hurting patients.
Despite differing perspectives on staffing and profit motives, both parties affirmed their commitment to prioritizing patient health care during negotiations. Steve Shields, Kaiser’s senior vice president of labor relations, assured that the deal would not impact consumer rates.