OAKLAND, Calif., — Kaiser Permanente is currently bargaining with the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which represents about 88,000 employees in a variety of roles and is part of the health care organization’s historic Labor Management Partnership.
As always, one of the key issues in this bargaining involves compensation, and Kaiser Permanente has reiterated its commitment to continuing to provide market-competitive wages and outstanding benefits. In fact, its philosophy is to deliver compensation that provides a premium (up to 10%) above the local market to attract and retain the best employees.
The unions’ negotiation position is that wages should not be market-based, which would result in wages in many of Kaiser Permanente’s markets being significantly higher, up to approximately 30% above market, including in Southern California. This dynamic creates significant cost challenges in trying to make health care more affordable for the organization’s members.
Given where both parties are in the bargaining process, it is clear the picketing by the Coalition at this stage is not about drawing attention to staffing, but rather an attempt to create bargaining leverage.
The staffing challenges mentioned by the Coalition have been happening all across health care, driven by the pandemic and its lasting effects. While Kaiser Permanente has experienced the same pressures, the organization has weathered these challenges better than the broader market.
Kaiser Permanente’s average employee turnover rate of 8.5%, as of June 2023, is significantly lower than the rate of 21.4% across the U.S. health care industry. From a recruiting perspective, 96% of candidates for Coalition-represented positions accept the organization’s employment offers, which is materially above the industry average. (Source for industry data: PwC Saratoga 2022 Survey.)
In bargaining sessions with the Coalition, both parties have aligned on working together to accelerate staffing and set a joint goal of hiring 10,000 new people for Coalition-represented jobs in 2023. To date, great progress has been made and Kaiser Permanente’s efforts have resulted in more than 6,500 positions filled, and the organization is aggressively recruiting to fill the remainder.
The jobs available include medical assistants, housekeeping aides, licensed practical and vocational nurses, service representatives, pharmacy technicians, certified nursing assistants, and radiologic technologists, among others. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply at kaiserpermanentejobs.org.
“Kaiser Permanente is consistently recognized as a best place to work, which reflects our mission to provide the highest quality preventive medicine, commitment to eliminate health care disparities, and desire to make lives better through innovation, technology, and research,” said Arlene Peasnall, senior vice president of human resources at Kaiser Permanente.
“We’re a recognized leader in providing market-competitive wages and outstanding benefits in every market we’re in. We offer employees opportunities to learn new skills and grow their careers, and we’re committed to providing a safe and equitable work environment. We’re also proud to be a welcoming and inclusive community where 70% of our employees represent racial, ethnic, and cultural minorities.”
Peasnall added, “Our priority is to reach an agreement that ensures we can continue to provide market-competitive pay and outstanding benefits. We are confident that we will be able to reach an agreement that strengthens our position as a best place to work and ensures that the high-quality care our members expect from us remains affordable and easy to access.”
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 12.6 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.