March 15, 2016

Statement on Los Angeles Medical Center nurses' strike

Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center (LAMC) has been notified by the California Nurses Association union (CNA) of its intent to strike March 15-22. This planned action by the union is simply a disappointing tactic to try to influence the bargaining of a first time contract. It is unfortunate that this union is calling on our nurses to walk away from their patients’ bedsides. We believe it is entirely inappropriate to attempt to disrupt patient care or service as a bargaining tactic.

Kaiser Permanente has a 70-year legacy of supporting organized labor and we are committed to preserving and strengthening the excellent relationships we have with our unions. As many of our labor unions can attest, their contracts with Kaiser Permanente serve as a model for other health systems and hospitals.

It is important to note that when disagreements do arise, we are not typically at odds with our employees but, rather, with their union leadership. However, we believe that contract negotiations should take place directly at the bargaining table and not on the street.

Actions such as these by the recently elected CNA union do nothing to further the progress of negotiations. Worse, this strike is completely unjustified, given the excellent offer we made in bargaining last month. We’ve proposed wages for these nurses that would keep them among the best paid nurses in Southern California – just like the rest of our nurses in our other hospitals. CNA’s response to this significant increase was to call a strike – before we’d even had a chance to discuss the proposal at the bargaining table.

Plans are in place to ensure members and patients will continue to receive the same high quality, safe care Kaiser Permanente provides each day. This isolated strike is not about quality or adequate staffing levels. The quality of care our teams at LAMC provide has never been higher. In fact, in 2015 LAMC was named one of the Top 10 Best Hospitals in California by US News and World Report and one of only 34 hospitals nationwide to be rated as "high performing" in all five common inpatient procedures. In addition, our nursing staff ratios meet or exceed state guidelines.

Kaiser Permanente values our nurses, along with all of our care teams. While we support the union members’ rights, we hope they will consider the potential impact to their patients and remain on the job providing care.

Additional Response to CNA allegations

As often happens in these types of disputes, we have already seen this union and its supporters make accusations that are not true. While we respect the unions and our workers' right to protest, we do ask that their comments be factual and true. Here are some examples of claims that are simply false:

CNA accusation: Patient care at the Los Angeles Medical Center is jeopardized by inadequate staffing ratios.

False: This isolated strike is not about quality or adequate staffing levels. Kaiser Permanente nursing staff ratios meet or exceed California State guidelines. And, in fact, in 2015, LAMC was named one of the Top 10 Best Hospitals in California by US News and World Report.

CNA accusation: Kaiser Permanente is not providing adequate funding resources needed for quality patient care.

False: This isolated strike is not about quality or adequate staffing levels. The quality of care our teams at LAMC provide has never been higher. In fact, in 2015 LAMC was named one of the Top 10 Best Hospitals in California by US News and World Report and one of only 34 hospitals nationwide to be rated as "high performing" in all five common inpatient procedures.

CNA accusation: Funding for the future Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine will impact the operations and quality of the Los Angeles Medical Center.

False: Funding for the future School of Medicine is from our nonprofit charitable dollars, separate from our medical center operations funds. KPSOM, which is scheduled to open in three years, will educate future physicians who will enter the field providing excellent care in multidisciplinary teams to patients both inside and outside of Kaiser Permanente.