September 22, 2023

Our statement on the Coalition’s strike notice for October 4

A strike notice does not mean a strike will happen.

Across the country, America’s working people are expressing the frustration and pain they feel after the last 3 years. Many have made sacrifices and lost much, and others feel they have been overlooked, and left behind.

We think it’s fair to say that people working in health care have faced the toughest challenges of all during the pandemic. We’ve all been through a lot.

The people of Kaiser Permanente faced these challenges too, and we persevered — through tireless dedication and often pure grit, and by taking care of each other so we could take care of everyone who needed us. We stuck together, and made sure we didn’t leave our people behind.

  • When the pandemic hit, we provided our front-line workforce with extraordinary benefits to support and protect them and their families, including $800 million in special benefits for housing, child care, and paid leave for COVID-19.
  • And when more than 5 million people left their health care jobs during the “great resignation,” we began recruiting talented people to join our workforce and relieve our own, sometimes exhausted, teams. We hired 29,000 people in 2022, and another 22,000 so far this year.
  • Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition agreed to work together to accelerate hiring this year, setting a joint goal in bargaining of hiring 10,000 new people for Coalition-represented jobs in 2023. Kaiser Permanente’s efforts to date have resulted in more than 9,700 positions filled, and we are aggressively recruiting to fill more.

In an industry with up to two-thirds of health care staff saying they are burnt out and more than 1 in 5 (21%) quitting, our turnover rate is now only 7% and our dedicated people are staying on the job.

The people of Kaiser Permanente have faced down the pandemic better than most because we started from a different place. From excellent pay and benefits to tuition assistance and training, from team-based problem solving and innovation to strong workplace safety programs, we have always invested in our people. We take care of our employees so they can care for our members, patients, and communities.

We have been there for our people during the pandemic, and we will be there for them going forward.

Kaiser Permanente is a leader in employee wages and benefits in every market we are in, and our philosophy is to provide pay that is up to 10% above market. That is why in bargaining with the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions this year, we are offering to further invest in our employees through:

  • Increasing wages to keep our employees’ pay at or above the market
  • Implementing national minimum wages
  • Continuing our existing excellent health benefits and retirement income plans
  • Renewing our strong tuition assistance and training programs

We also always strive to make health care more affordable for our patients, members, and customers. Wages and benefits make up about half the cost of health care in America, so we all need to work together on that critical goal.

The Coalition unions are positioned to strike in October. However, for the last 26 years of our historic labor-management partnership, we have reached agreements with the Coalition every time, with no strikes. A strike notice does not mean a strike will happen. Our top priority is caring for our members and patients, and we have plans in place to ensure we can continue to provide high-quality care should a strike actually occur.

To be clear, we will continue to bargain in good faith until we reach a fair and equitable 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.

We are committed to doing the right thing for our employees, members, and customers, because that’s who we are.