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Deal struck: Kaiser Permanente reaches agreement with union workers, strike called off

In this supplied photo, Kaiser nurses and their supporters attend a rally in October 2021. The nurses, represented by the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, object to a proposed contract that would cut wages and benefits for new hires.
Courtesy of Tim Trautman
/
In this supplied photo, Kaiser nurses and their supporters attend a rally in October 2021. The nurses, represented by the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, object to a proposed contract that would cut wages and benefits for new hires.

Thousands of Kaiser Permanente employees in Oregon and Southwest Washington will not strike on Monday after a tentative agreement was reached Saturday morning between unions and the health care company.

According to Kaiser Permanente, a new 4-year contract was negotiated with Alliance of Health Care Unions, which is a collective of unions that in total represents 52,000 Kaiser workers, including about 3,400 nurses and other health professionals working for Kaiser in Oregon and Southwest Washington. The local nurses and health workers’ contract expired on Sept. 30.

The Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals previously said Alliance union members had planned to go on strike Monday at 6 a.m., after giving Kaiser 10 days’ notice, as required by law.

Union leaders say the tentative agreement gets rid of a proposed two-tier pay system, which would have paid new hires between 25 and 40 percent less than other employees doing the same jobs.

“I’m really happy we have an [agreement],” said Shane Burley of OFNHP. “It was a really long fight. It only happened because we basically put forth the largest health care strike in American history.”

Kaiser described the new contract as one that will continue to “reward our employees and address health care affordability.”

A press release from the workers unions said the deal includes higher wages, racial justice improvements, and a staffing committee that will address staffing shortages.

The contract is still pending ratification by the Alliance unions, but the planned strikes have been canceled. Voting by union members on the tentative agreement is expected to happen over the next several weeks and if the agreement is ratified, it will have an effective date of Oct. 1.

Details on the new contract can be read here.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.