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Kaiser Permanente Union Coalition Splits as Contract Talks Begin

April 2, 2018

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

OAKLAND, Calif.—The coalition of 34 unions at the Kaiser Permanente health-care network fractured Mar. 26, as 21 locals announced they were leaving the day before contract talks were to start. The 21 unions objected to the more confrontational bargaining strategy pursued by SEIU United Healthcare West, the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions’ largest member, which had held more than 30 protests attacking management for outsourcing. They said they plan to form a new coalition “in the spirit of the original coalition and labor-management partnership” formed in 1996. The unions leaving, which include the 15,500-member AFSCME United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals and 12 United Food and Commercial Workers locals, represent about 45,000 Kaiser workers. The ones staying, which have more than 70,000 members, include SEIU-UHW, other SEIU locals, and several Office and Professional Employees International Union locals. SEIU Local 49 said it was “disappointed in the lack of solidarity,” but Local 49 President Meg Niemi told NWLaborpress that “we hope the unions that left will reunite with our coalition.” Kaiser Permanente, a health-maintenance organization that operates in California, seven other states, and Washington, D.C., is the most heavily unionized large health-care employer in the U.S. Read more

April 2, 2018

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