Kaiser Offers Nurses 21.25% Raise in Wages, Strike Averted
Update: The California Nurses Association (CNA) reached a tentative agreement with Kaiser Permanente. As a result the planned two-day strike by more than 21,000 registered nurses and nurse practitioners in Northern California was averted and there was no disruption to patient care.
The four-year tentative deal boosts wages for Northern California nurses by 22.5%, according to reports. Kaiser had previously proposed a 21.25% wage increase. The union and healthcare system have not released an update regarding the percent raise.
Strikes by nurses’ unions have been taking place across the entire country as nurses have spoken out about wages, patient staffing, and working conditions that they deem no longer acceptable. While sometimes an effective strategy for working with healthcare administration, nurses’ strikes can have some negative impacts, from potentially impacting patient care to driving up healthcare costs.
And as another nurses’ union in California prepared to strike, Kaiser Permanente, a healthcare system in Oakland, CA, has responded in a way that hasn’t been seen with other strikes: with an offer to raise nurses’ wages by 21.25%.
On November 17, 2022, the California Nurses Association announced that the Kaiser strike had been adverted.
The Proposed Strike
On November 10, National Nurses United reported that Northern California Kaiser nurses were planning on a strike at Kaiser Permanente facilities to take place on November 21 and 22. Over 21,000 nurses across 21 Kaiser facilities in the area announced their plans to their employers that they would be involved in the strike—which would be one of the biggest private-sector nurse strikes in history, according to the union.
The nurses planned on striking as a result of what they claim was the administration’s refusal to address their concerns over workplace health and safety, patient safety, and chronic short staffing. Specifically, they want minimum staffing guidelines that ensure safe patient care, increased hiring and training, and job protections against subcontracting and outsourcing. On their website, nurses from Kaiser spoke out about some of the problems they have been facing, saying:
“Nurses are missing their breaks and lunches every single day due to short staffing,” said Diane McClure, RN in the post-anesthesia care unit at Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center. “We need our legally provided breaks so that we are rested and can provide the highest level of care.”
“Without enough nurses in both inpatient and outpatient settings, patients are left for hours in the emergency room or receive inadequate and untimely access to outpatient care,” said Michelle Vo, RN in the adult primary care unit at Kaiser Permanente Fremont Medical Center. “Our patients deserve better from a corporation that made more than $24 billion over the past five years.
“We always want to give our patients the best care, but Kaiser refuses to provide the resources we need to do our jobs safely,” said CNA President Cathy Kennedy, RN in the neonatal ICU unit at Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center. “We are chronically short-staffed, which means patients are waiting longer for care. This is unacceptable and unconscionable when Kaiser made more than $14 billion during the first two years of the pandemic.”
The union also added that they always give employers at least a 10-day notice before a strike occurs, to allow time for planning so patient care will not be affected negatively.
Kaiser has also been in the midst of a long strike by its mental health workers, who also touted that the organization was putting profits over patients.
How Kaiser Responded
According to Becker’s Hospital Review, Kaiser administration responded to the news of the planned strike with an offer that includes a 21.25% wage increase over four years. A session reportedly took place on November 10, the same day the strike was announced.
“Our proposal is driven by the changing economy, including inflation, significant changes in the marketplace and our commitment to providing our employees with excellent pay and benefits,” Kaiser stated. "We have already reached important agreements in bargaining on safety, diversity and other important matters," the health system said.
Kaiser also denies what the union has claimed about staffing and hiring, saying that they actually have met or exceeded current state-set staffing ratios and have carried out “aggressive” recruiting and hiring of healthcare workers.
Becker’s reports that Kaiser participated in another bargaining session on behalf of the Southern California nurses on Nov. 11 and hopes to reach “a mutually agreeable solution that recognizes the nursing wage rates in the Los Angeles market, our current economic realities, and the inflationary environment of today."
Where The Union Stands Now
Prior to the announcement of the strike adverted, rumors began swirling on social media that the planned strike had been called off and an agreement has been reached between Kaiser and the union. Travelers who were primed and ready to staff the strike line report receiving the “red light” for the strike from their respective agencies.
Image source: Nurses to Riches/Facebook
This is a developing story and Nurse.org will continue to update as official news from the union is released.
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