October 18, 2019

Open Letter to Leaders of the National Union of Healthcare Workers

Statement by Arlene Peasnall, Senior Vice President and Interim Chief Human Resources Officer, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Hospitals

An Open Letter to the Leaders of the National Union of Healthcare Workers

We’ve been engaged in contract negotiations for more than a year and have offered a proposal that balances highly competitive wages, benefits and professional development opportunities for our therapists with our commitment to affordable care — the same principles that guide all our union contracts.

Our proposal would keep our therapists among the best compensated in California. Across the state, most Kaiser Permanente psychologists earn at least $135,000 or more, and social workers at least $109,000 or more. Under our offer, therapists could receive a total of $35,000 to $49,000 in additional pay over 3 years.

Instead of bargaining productively, however, you’ve launched yet another round of reputational attacks against Kaiser Permanente. To be clear, we will not be pressured by negative campaigns or threats of strikes into an agreement that does not align with our key principles.

Your attacks are not only divisive, they ignore the important progress Kaiser Permanente has made to help address the nation’s crisis in mental health care. In California alone:

  • We have hired more than 400 new therapists since January
  • We are building dozens of new treatment facilities
  • We are allocating more than $10 million to expand our postgraduate training programs
  • We are investing $30 million to help more people enter the mental health professions

We’ve heard our therapists and our leaders and we’re continuing to listen. We’ve:

  • Made more appointments and more access available to our members and patients
  • Implemented tools, like feedback-informed care, to help our therapists and patients understand the effectiveness of treatment
  • Offered, in our proposals, to work collaboratively with our therapists as we continue to improve our programs and redesign our model of care

We can do more together, but without a ratified contract, we cannot move forward with additional initiatives that will improve scheduling, increase compensation (both pay and benefits), provide student loan repayments, and other contract provisions.

It’s time to bring these negotiations to a close. It’s time to agree to a mutually beneficial contract. And it’s time to allow our mental health providers to fully focus on improving mental health care for our members, patients and the communities we serve.

Let’s move forward.

Arlene Peasnall
Senior Vice President and Interim Chief Human Resources Officer,
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Hospitals