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Tentative Agreement Reached Between Union Coalition and Kaiser Permanente

October 19, 2023

Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Julie A. Su recently released a statement regarding a tentative labor agreement that was reached between leaders for the union coalition representing healthcare workers and Kaiser Permanente.

In early October, more than 75,000 Kaiser Permanente healthcare employees, including maintenance and janitorial staff, walked off the job. The three-day strike was the largest involving healthcare workers in U.S. history.

According to NPR, both sides of the agreement credited the involvement of Su, who was physically present when the final deal was struck at 3 a.m. on Friday, October 13. The new contract amounts to a 21% increase in wages over the next four years.

“This hard-won, historic deal reflects the dedication and commitment of both parties and a longstanding labor-management partnership between them,” Su said in her statement.

“What the parties have achieved here in Oakland demonstrates, once again, that collective bargaining works,” she continued. “When workers have a voice and a seat at the table, it can result in historic gains for workers, their employer and our country.”

“The President and I congratulate the parties on reaching a mutually beneficial deal that delivers important stability for this critical workforce, for Kaiser Permanente and for the patients in their collective care,” she concluded.

Steve Shields, Kaiser lead for labor relations, told NPR that, while the negotiations were long, all parties now feel like they have come to a solid agreement.

“It was a bumpy ride,” he said. “We are committed to the mission and committed to caring for people in our communities. It is a challenging environment in the U.S. in general for healthcare. We don’t have enough healthcare workers.”

NPR reports that Kaiser employees who participated in the strike voted to ratify the new contract on October 18.

“This deal is life-changing for frontline healthcare workers like me, and life-saving for our patients,” Yvonne Esquivel, a Kaiser Permanente pediatric medical assistant in Gilroy, California, told NPR. “Thousands of Kaiser healthcare workers fought hard for this new agreement, and now we will finally have the resources we need to do the job we love and keep our patients safe.”

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