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Kaiser Permanente, unions reach labor deal to avert strike

Kaiser Permanente union workers health care workers
Jae C. Hong/AP
Medical staff from left, Helen Cordova, Kim Taylor, Brian Thompson, Raul Aguilar, and Angela Balam pose for photos after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center in Los Angeles, on Dec. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

LOS ANGELES — An alliance of unions representing 50,000 Kaiser Permanente workers in California, Oregon, Hawaiʻi and five other states called off a strike notice after reaching a tentative labor deal Saturday with the health care network.

The Alliance of Health Care Unions and Kaiser Permanente jointly announced the agreement, staving off a potentially crippling strike in which 32,000 employees, most of them in Southern California, threatened to walk off the job this coming Monday to protest understaffing and wage cuts for new hires.

Additional members of the alliance, comprised of 21 local unions, authorized a one-day “sympathy strike” on Nov. 18.

Agreement on the four-year contract includes annual wage increases, while maintaining health benefits for employees, and new staffing language to continue to protect employees and patients, the statement said.

“This agreement will mean patients will continue to receive the best care, and Alliance members will have the best jobs,” said Hal Ruddick, executive director of the alliance. “This contract protects our patients, provides safe staffing, and guarantees fair wages and benefits for every Alliance member.”

Christian Meisner, the chief human resources officer at Kaiser Permanente, said the agreement “underscores our unwavering commitment to our employees by maintaining industry-leading wages and benefits.”

Bargaining continues with the local units representing Kaiser pharmacists in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, as well as a group of engineers.

“We hope to reach agreements very soon,” Kaiser spokesman Steve Shivinsky said.

The alliance said it has more than 35,000 member employees in California; 6,300 in Oregon and Washington; 2,100 in Colorado; 2,300 in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia; 3,000 in Georgia; and 1,900 in Hawaiʻi.

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