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Kaiser Permanente Starts 2 Days Of Bargaining To Avoid Strike

Kaiser Permanente dental assistant Lisa Pharmeter waves at cars honking in support of union members who are rallying for higher pay and more jobs in Vancouver, Washington. | MOLLY SOLOMON/OPB
September 23, 2019

Union reps and executives with Kaiser Permanente restart negotiations Monday, in hope of avoiding a massive nationwide strike next month.

Monday and Tuesday are the only two bargaining days scheduled between workers and Kaiser Permanente.

More than 80,000 workers across six states and Washington, D.C., have said they’ll hold a seven-day strike starting Oct. 14 if they don’t get an acceptable contract.

Kaiser executives have called the strike threat “aggressive” and “negative.”

Rae Dunnaville, with Service Employees International Union Local 49 in Portland, said what they’re asking for is straightforward.

“We’re trying to restore a true worker-management partnership,” Dunnaville said. “We want to ensure safe staffing and compassionate use of technology. And we want to make sure that we’re protecting patients and the middle class jobs with wages and benefits that can really support families.”

Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson issued a statement saying, in part: “We are committed to offering a package that’s aligned with all of our other unions, that keeps our employees among the best paid in wages and benefits in the industry. We are committed to our workforce who delivers on our mission every day and to our members’ demand for greater affordability of care and coverage from Kaiser Permanente.”

Tyson’s statement said he hopes to avoid a strike on Oct. 14, but “we are preparing to deal with all scenarios to make sure our members are cared for.”