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Bargaining update and message to KP mental health therapists

Since June 2018, Kaiser Permanente and NUHW have met 22 times, spent hundreds of hours at the bargaining table (never shying away from hard, honest discussions), exchanged dozens of proposals, and experienced a 5-day strike. Now, we are near the end – the parties have only three scheduled bargaining sessions left, with the last date being Feb. 28.

KP has demonstrated flexibility in its operational proposals based on feedback from the team of represented therapists at the bargaining table. Our proposal for Provider Profiles (schedule management) includes expanded ratios of 1:6 for ongoing patient care, protected and dedicated Indirect Patient Care time, and reserved spots and flexibility that increase therapists’ autonomy of their schedules. In our Jan. 31 session, KP presented its counterproposal for dedicated after-hours coverage, addressing what we have heard to be a priority, asking for a system with dedicated on-call staff. Our proposal agrees to create after-hours systems with posted, dedicated positions at every medical center. In addition, the proposal would allow clinicians who agree to cover unfilled posted shifts to choose how they would like to receive their pay (either Accrued Time Off or Extra Pay) and offers pay incentives for staff who agree to cover unfilled holiday shifts.

The after-hours and Provider Profiles proposals are part of a package of nine operational proposals, including proposals that cover seniority and posting and filling positions. Several of these proposals have been pending for months. The union’s lack of engagement on operational proposals is disappointing. We await a meaningful response to our operating proposal package, which represents a significant financial investment in therapist working conditions and schedule management.

KP entered bargaining with a commitment to reach an agreement that supports our therapists and builds on the work we have done together to advance the quality of our mental health care. That commitment has not wavered. Yet, despite strong proposals by KP which demonstrate meaningful response to the therapists’ stated priorities at the bargaining table, NUHW continues to threaten an open-ended strike.

In the past few months, we have shared with you our perspective that strikes are both unnecessary and unproductive. A strike of any duration would cause serious disruption of care for our members, and accordingly we are taking this possibility very seriously. You may notice a ramp up in contingency preparations to ensure continuity of care for our members. This is the right thing to do. We hope that our strike preparations prove to be entirely unnecessary, as we believe that agreements should and can be achieved at the bargaining table.

Thank you.

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