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A message for our valued mental health therapists

To our valued mental health therapists:

Kaiser Permanente has been bargaining with the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) since early 2021 in hopes of reaching tentative agreement on a new contract to replace the one that expired in September of last year.

We understand that NUHW has announced plans to strike — even though we are still in active bargaining with another session tomorrow, August 5, and are committed to resolving remaining issues and reaching an agreement.

It is disappointing that NUHW is asking you to walk away from your patients who need you and is even asking therapists in the community who would provide care in your absence to show support for its tactics. The fact is, a strike will not bring us closer to an agreement — only vigorous, good faith bargaining can do that.

That said, it is perplexing that NUHW leaders have chosen to strike when we were close to an agreement. Together, we have made significant progress in bargaining, including reaching several tentative agreements, and holding productive discussions regarding remaining issues. In our last bargaining session we were about 1% apart in our respective wage proposals, and we came to bargaining last Friday with hopes to bring negotiations to a conclusion.

Unfortunately, NUHW delivered a surprising and totally new economic proposal that nearly doubled the annual wage increase of its own proposal with minimal explanation, and within days announced an open ended strike giving no time to discuss at the bargaining table. NUHW’s actions do not demonstrate good faith bargaining with an intent to reach agreement, and pushed us further apart.

We believe the bargaining table is the best place to resolve our differences, and we are committed to bargaining in good faith to reach a fair and equitable agreement that is good for our patients as well as for you, our dedicated and compassionate therapists.

We hope that if NUHW moves forward with this strike that you will choose to be here for your patients. While we have comprehensive contingency plans in place to ensure our members will receive the care they need, we ask you to reject calls to walk away from those who need and depend upon you.

We owe a deep debt of gratitude to all of our mental health professionals — you have worked long, difficult hours in challenging conditions to deliver exceptional care since the arrival of the COVID-19 virus more than two years ago — and we believe our proposals at the table reflect our regard and appreciation for you.

Thank you so much for all you do, each day, to provide compassionate, excellent care for our patients and members.

Debora Catsavas
Senior Vice President, Human Resources
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals

Darin Tankersley, PhD
Chief of Medical Center Administration and Operations
The Permanente Medical Group

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