The Fight is Not Over
Over 2,500 UNAC/UHCP and Alliance of Health Care Unions members deluged the Hilton Costa Mesa on July 8 in an epic show of solidarity—the largest show of force in 20 years of Labor-Management Partnership bargaining. We sent a message that can’t be ignored: we stand united for our patients and for our contract.
“This is the most powerful day in our history,” said Denise Duncan, RN, UNAC/UHCP President. “This is who we are. This is about what we stand for.”
But the fight is not over. When bargaining ended Monday, we remained far apart on our highest priority patient safety, economic and partnership issues, including:
• KP proposing to eliminate our no cancellations language.
• KP pushing for higher health plan co-pays.
• KP made record profits last year but continues to hammer “affordability” and budget over the best standards of patient care.
• KP’s commitment to partnership remains in doubt.
Local bargaining begins July 24. By our request the next national bargaining dates were pushed out to August 28 and 29 so we can elevate any local contract disagreements to the national table if needed.
We must carry the power of Sunday’s rally through the summer to win a strong contract that maintains the standards we’ve set for the best place to work and receive care.
Sign our petition at unacuhcp.org/unitedtowin.
Cancellations Strike at the Heart of KP
“We used to get cancelled two or three shifts per pay period when I started as a nurse and didn’t belong to a union,” President Duncan, RN, told a union caucus on Monday. “I couldn’t make my mortgage because I never got a full paycheck, and that was standard practice in the industry. Most of us worked two or three jobs just to survive. Nurses were retiring at the poverty level.”
“I came to Kaiser in 1985 because they didn’t cancel nurses,” Duncan continued. “But soon they followed the market. That’s why we fought so hard for our no cancellations language. I’m not going to let us give it up. We earn more as nurses and health care professionals now and we can retire with dignity because we belong to a union. This is personal for us.”
“Cancelling staff makes no sense at all,” said Charmaine Morales, RN, UNAC/UHCP Executive Vice President. “And it doesn’t make any sense at all that those who are not taking care of the patients are trying to define it. It’s wrong. It’s their recommendation. But it’s going to be before the full CIC on our next bargaining session August 28 and 29.”
Far Apart on Priorities: Highlights and Details from Bargaining
Bargaining began Sunday with Alliance leaders including Bill Rouse, UNAC/UHCP Executive Director, presenting our bargaining interests to management and 2,500+ member observers.
Highlights from the presentation:
• Kaiser had its best net profit ever last year: $3.8 billion, and its second best year ever for operating profit.
• KP wants to be the best at care but only an average employer—an impossible combination.
• “You don’t listen to us about staffing. Every time we bring it up you mention budget.” –Bill Rouse
• We’re concerned about the future of partnership—we believe in it more than management:
o 76% of our members are committed to the Partnership, yet
o Only 40% have ever received LMP training
• We make Partnership agreements which management doesn’t follow.
• Kaiser is sliding toward a part-time workforce:
o RNs went from 60% full-time down to 53% of the total RN workforce from 2010 to 2017, at the same time that per diems increased from 12% to 19%.
o Managers can’t get full time positions approved but they can slide in another per diem.
o One of five per diems works more than 1,000 hours per year.
• In some Kaiser regions outside California wage increases have not kept pace with cost of living.
• Management seems more invested in technology than investing in the best workforce.
• “In health care, technology does not take care of patients. We do.” –Bill Rouse
We Have Strong Support from Political Leaders
The 2,500+ Alliance members who attended bargaining were addressed by three California political leaders. Highlights:
“We know that your strength comes from your solidarity. It comes from standing together and speaking with one voice. We know that you are the heart and soul of Kaiser. You’re not only fighting for one another but you’re fighting for your patients.” –Nathan Fletcher, former CA Assemblymember, candidate for San Diego County Board of Supervisors
“I am the daughter of a nurse. She just wanted to take care of her patients, but she knew the only way workers were listened to is if they had a union. You bargain for ratios and patient care. I was raised with that spirit and I love to see how strong it is today in this room.” –Lorena Gonzales Fletcher, CA Assemblymember, 80th District
“You are the ones who make the union strong. So keep doing what you’re doing. Kaiser is very lucky to have all of you. You care for their patients, your patients. So now it’s time for Kaiser to step up and take care of all of you.” –Connie Leyva, CA Senate District 20, Senate Health Committee Chair
Some Agreements Were Reached
Despite remaining far apart on many issues, we did achieve consensus on some issues:
• The Partnership subgroup recommended and the full CIC approved LMP training within 90 days of being hired or accreted into the National Agreement.
• The Operational Effectiveness subgroup recommended and the full CIC approved a plan to create early engagement timelines to meet within 30 days when management identifies an interest around flexibility.
• In the Economics subgroup management committed that all side letters are still binding, including those related to employment security and the Ben Hudnall Trust.
• Management also agreed to establish a new LMP trust for Alliance members, with increased funding for the Ben Hudnall Education Trust.
With so many crucial issues still in question—cancellations, staffing, patient care, our wages and benefits, and Kaiser’s commitment to Partnership—we must continue to make history with our solidarity.
Sign our petition at unacuhcp.org/unitedtowin.
Plan to attend an upcoming bargaining session to let management know we won’t settle for anything less than the best patient care and the best place to work.