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KP-NUHW Bargaining Update, Sept. 15, 2022 – A message from the KP bargaining team

As fellow mental health professionals, and your colleagues, we are personally aware of the impact that ever-increasing demands for mental health care in our communities continues to have on you. As members of the Kaiser Permanente bargaining team, we have heard every one of your concerns and requests, have considered each one seriously throughout the bargaining process and have responded in the spirit of collaboration with multiple enhancements to compensation, per diem pay, telecommuting, and creative IPC solutions.

We heard your request for increased compensation, including increased per diem pay, to help address staffing challenges amid a national therapist shortage.

We heard your desire for more remote work options.

And we heard your sincere concern for more IPC time in support of patient care.

Throughout bargaining, we’ve listened and responded to each of these concerns.

 To keep you among the best compensated in the profession, we have offered:

  • Generous wage increases of 4%, 3%, and 3% over the 3 years of the contract and a 1% lump sum payment, to which NUHW has indicated its agreement
    • Utilizing a retroactive bonus of up to $6,300 per employee — 6,300 for full time employees, $5,000 for part-time employees, and $2,400 for per diem employees.
  • Continued excellent benefits, with no takeaways

To address the very challenging IPC time and help make your workload more sustainable, we proposed:

  • Increasing IPC time to 18% from the current 15%
  • Improving the definition of a new appointment, to redefine a new patient as one who has not been seen in 12 months, rather than 24 months — which along with our IPC increase would help balance workload for therapists and access to care for patients

We have also shared our approach to investing resources to provide practice support, with staff who will take on duties that are below the respective level of your clinical licensure so that you will have a lighter workload and can use the 18% proposed IPC time to spend on higher level patient care.

Kaiser Permanente made further movement in bargaining yesterday and we are pleased to have achieved several tentative agreements, including meeting your requests for more remote work options and we came to agreement on eligibility criteria for therapists to transfer into other positions in the organization.

Additionally, we agreed to a pay differential increase for per diem, temporary and short-hour employees from $1 per hour to $2 per hour.

And in an additional effort to reach agreement, we withdrew a controversial proposal related to Active Client Summaries. This further enhanced our proposals within Article 28, which together are the elements of achieving sustainable workloads.

The remaining key item is related to the time available for you to see patients.

As you all know, NUHW was instrumental in getting a law passed that requires health plans to offer nonurgent, nonphysician mental health or substance use disorder follow-up appointments within 10 business days of a prior appointment unless there is supporting documentation that a longer interval is appropriate and won’t negatively impact the patient’s health. We fully support the intent of the law and are diligently working to meet the requirements of SB 221 despite the challenges the new law presents to all health plans to have enough clinicians to meet record high demand for mental health care.

To comply with this new law and provide the access to care we all agree is critical for our members, we need more therapists, and we need more available appointments.

To address this, we continue to aggressively recruit and hire therapists, we have proposed protecting patient care time while substantively increasing time to address your workload, and we are creatively addressing your genuine need to handle tasks, through significant practice support.

As we told your representatives, we cannot go any further on this issue. To do so would be asking us to be out of compliance with the law and to do less for patients rather than more.

Despite all the movement on Kaiser Permanente’s part, and despite what union leadership is claiming, it offered no formal proposal that would demonstrate movement from its original position on IPC percentage. This is not the collaborative effort we have been earnestly seeking and need to have to reach agreement.

You are sacrificing your time and your financial well-being while we have sincerely listened to your priorities and responded to your representatives with realistic solutions that are good for you and the people who need our care.

We encourage you to ask your union leaders to call off this unnecessary strike and let you vote on an excellent proposal we can all be proud of.

We are grateful to those who have chosen to come to work and care for our patients over the last month. It saddens us that the current strike is putting many of you through unnecessary stress and sacrifice, while disrupting care for patients – and in the end it is not going to help reach an agreement when there is no more we can do.

We know first-hand the work we do together is extraordinary and extraordinarily challenging. We are intent on finding ways to help you do the best job you can, supporting you, and to working together to keep evolving our model of care.

Thank you.


Members of the Kaiser Permanente bargaining team:

Maria Koshy, MD

Inderpreet Dhillon, MD, MBA

Agnes Amistoso, MS, MA

Carrie Clark, LCSW

James Kempf, Ed.D.

Susan Seruby, LCSW

David Frizzell

Rudy Collins, MBA

Catherine Porter

Norah Eller


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