Our Point of View
January 31, 2012
Kaiser Permanente Statement on NUHW and CNA Strikes in California
For more than a year, Kaiser Permanente has been bargaining with the National Union of Healthcare Workers, and we have made significant progress. We’ve provided NUHW with proposals covering all aspects of a new agreement — including salary, working conditions and benefits. We believe our proposals will ensure that Kaiser Permanente remains a great place to work, and that NUHW-represented employees continue to receive highly desirable, market-leading salary and benefits, including health care coverage and a generous retirement package.
However, the next step in this process has been in NUHW’s hands since at least last summer. Instead of focusing on the issues to be resolved, NUHW has called for strikes, and made inaccurate and misleading allegations about Kaiser Permanente’s care, diverting attention from the real bargaining.
For example, we have fully reviewed the allegations made by the NUHW around timely access to mental-health services for our patients, and have confirmed that the allegations are misleading and untrue. Kaiser Permanente is in compliance with the state's timely access regulations. In fact, the quality of our mental-health services has been recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance, and Kaiser Permanente is the only health plan to receive a 4-star rating for mental health care — the highest rating possible — in the state of California Office of the Patient Advocate’s annual report card for managed-care plans in California.
We know our NUHW-represented employees are diligent and compassionate caregivers and employees. Regardless of any strike activity, we will continue to negotiate in good faith to reach an agreement soon. At the same time, we believe the best place to resolve differences and achieve an agreement is at the bargaining table. We hope the union will soon engage constructively in bargaining with us over the remaining economic issues.
The leadership of the California Nurses Association also called for a one-day work stoppage at 21 Kaiser Permanente hospitals to coincide with NUHW’s strike. This is the second time in four months that CNA has asked its members to disrupt their patient care for thousands of patients, even though we are not in negotiations with CNA, and won’t be for two more years. Our three-year contract has a no-strike clause that says, “There shall be no strikes, lockouts or other stoppages, or interruptions of work during the life of this Agreement.” We have taken legal action to address this.
For all of these reasons, especially the potential impact on patient care, we are concerned and disappointed that CNA leaders have called on their members to participate in a strike. Fortunately, more than two thirds of our nurses put their patients first and came to work this morning, rejecting the call from CNA to deliberately disrupt patient care. We are pleased that so many of our nurses made the decision to continue providing our patients with high-quality personalized health care and to honor their contract.
Quality and safety are Kaiser Permanente’s top priorities. We are recognized nationally and internationally for providing outstanding high-quality health care and service, and we are proud that we are having a positive impact on the health and well-being of our members and patients. During this strike, we will continue to focus on our goal of providing our patients with high-quality health care and service.