A Coalition Bargaining Update From Dennis Dabney, Senior Vice President, National Labor Relations and the Office of the Labor Management Partnership; and Jim Pruitt, Vice President, Labor Management Partnership and Labor Relations, The Permanente Federation
May 15, 2019
The president of our Northern California Region, Janet Liang, opened the first Kaiser Permanente-Coalition bargaining session Tuesday sharing how early experiences shaped her values as a leader: One of 7 children. The daughter of immigrant parents. She covered up when she was sick because she knew her family didn’t have money for the doctor. And in high school she was in an at-risk youth program that changed her life. She started at KP as an intern 27 years ago and never left. “My life is intertwined with being part of Kaiser Permanente,” she said as the audience of more than 300 listened intently. “It is so rare to find a place where you can live your values and your purpose and make a living.” Today, she said, our model is vulnerable — but KP and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions have an opportunity to shape together how we’re going to respond to the dramatic changes sweeping through health care. How do we help provide universal, affordable care? How do we stay in front of technological advances? How do we meet consumer expectations for convenient, on-demand care? “I believe in your passion,” she said, speaking directly to the union negotiators and observers in the room. “I believe in your power. I believe that your commitment runs deep.”
Dave Regan, the president of SEIU-UHW, also spoke, calling on KP to join the Coalition unions in redefining and rebuilding the Partnership so that it is better than it has ever been. Partnering with the Coalition, he said, is a strategic investment in the future. The Coalition includes SEIU-UHW and the other SEIU locals, the OPEIU locals, and IFPTE.
For the remainder of the day, the bargaining team — more than 100 management and union representatives — broke into the 3 smaller teams that will be working together over the coming sessions. Those groups are developing solutions that will let us prepare for how jobs will be changing in the future; how to work better together and improve organizational performance while delivering high-quality care; and how to strengthen our Labor Management Partnership.
The serious work of the day done, many of the negotiators drifted to the huge TV in the hotel lobby to relax and cheer on either the Golden State Warriors or the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA Western Conference Finals. It was easy to guess who in the group was from Northern California and who from the Northwest— but as with all good Partnership activities, the lines between management and union disappeared.