October 1, 2021

Bargaining continues despite contract expiration

A statement by Arlene Peasnall, senior vice president of human resources at Kaiser Permanente.

At Kaiser Permanente, we are proud of our history of having a highly unionized workforce. Our history and our future are deeply connected to organized labor, and labor unions have always played an important role in our efforts to give more people access to high-quality care and make care more affordable. We remain committed to working together with labor for our workforce, our members, and the communities that rely on us.

Kaiser Permanente and the Alliance of Health Care Unions began national bargaining in April 2021. We worked late into the evening on September 30, 2021, before the contract expired, but we were not able to reach an agreement or agree on terms for a contract extension. It is not uncommon to continue negotiating without a contract in place, and we are committed to resolving this quickly. We have made progress in many important areas, have extended an initial economic offer, and will continue to work collaboratively with the Alliance to reach an agreement that meets the interests of both parties.

We strongly believe that differences in bargaining are best worked out at the bargaining table, and we have a 24-year history of partnership with the unions in the Alliance that proves it. We understand that some union leaders are now calling for a strike authorization vote, even though our members and communities are continuing to face the challenges of the ongoing pandemic. A strike authorization does not automatically trigger a strike. Unions still would be required to provide us with a 10-day notification before any work stoppage could commence.

We ask that our employees reject a call to walk away from the patients who need them. Our priority is to continue to provide our members with high-quality, safe care. In the event of any kind of work stoppage, our facilities will be staffed by our physicians along with trained and experienced managers and contingency staff.

We are extremely grateful for our front-line health care employees, whose commitment to providing care and service throughout the pandemic has been nothing short of inspiring.