Kaiser workers avoid strike 2 days before deadline

About 3,400 Kaiser workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington were set to join 35,000 other Kaiser staff across the U.S. in a strike on Nov. 15.

Posted: Nov 13, 2021 2:16 PM

PORTLAND, Oregon — Kaiser Permanente and its employees reached a tentative agreement on a new contract on Saturday, avoiding a strike two days before the deadline.

The new contract comes after months of negotiations and it includes wage increases, racial justice language and language to address the staffing crisis, according to a news release from the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Healthcare Professionals (OFNHP). The OFNHP is the union that represents Kaiser workers in Oregon and Washington.

About 3,400 Kaiser workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington were set to join 35,000 other Kaiser staff across the U.S. in a strike on Nov. 15. The union had said the primary issue was a lack of adequate staffing at Kaiser and in other healthcare settings.

The tentative agreement does away with Kaiser's two-tier wage proposal, which the OFNHP said would have "paid incoming frontline healthcare workers much less than their peers."

"The pressure our members, including leaders and community, put on Kaiser and the threat of a strike worked and moved Kaiser leadership to do the right thing and settle a proposal that will improve care for the entire community,” said Jodi Barschow, a registered nurse at Kaiser Sunnyside and the president of the OFNHP.

The president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Randi Weingarten, also praised the new contract in a statement.

Weingarten wrote, in part, "It invests in safe staffing levels, stops two-tier wages and gets workers a much needed raise. And it builds on rather than frays the commitment to labor-management partnership. We honor the workers’ fight as a demonstration, once again, that together we can achieve what would be impossible alone."

The OFNHP said union members are set to vote on the new contract in the coming days.

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