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KP-NUHW Bargaining Update, Week of Oct. 10

A message from Steve Shields, Senior Vice President, National Labor Relations and Office of LMP, KFHP/H; and Jim Pruitt, Vice President, LMP and Labor Relations, The Permanente Federation.

To our therapists,

When hearing from NUHW that the union wanted to meet on Monday, we were optimistic this could lead to an agreement and the end of the strike. We had a session on Monday, after which the Kaiser Permanente team took what we heard from the union and worked on a new approach that would provide therapists 20% indirect patient care time (IPC), as requested by the union, and would support our patients’ needs for timely access to care, which is essential to any agreement.

We had an additional session Tuesday where we presented a proposal for 20% IPC time to complement a commitment of seeing 30 patients per week, including group therapy. In addition, we agreed to ensure that 2 appointments per week would be reserved in a therapist’s schedule for urgent return appointments. An example for a 40-hour week would be:

• 7.5 hours IPC (including group prep)
• 2.5 hours meeting time
• 30 patients seen (with credit given for providing group therapy)
• 2 appointments reserved for urgent (“Q”) patients.

This would be adjusted for therapists working less than 40 hours/week and for those who lead other essential activities like training or supervising.

We know that getting to a clear definition of IPC time is essential to the success of this approach. To that end, we want to leverage a practice that worked well following our last negotiation where we commit to working with the union to define a letter that outlines the definitions and calculations of IPC time. Unfortunately, the union refused to engage on how this might work.

Simply put, we want our therapists to have the time needed to address non-direct patient care responsibilities. But we have to balance that with our patients’ needs for access to care. Despite what you may hear from NUHW, our new proposal is NOT a return to previous contract language from 2015. Our proposal is different from what has been negotiated in the past around a set percentage of time or “seen metric.” Rather, our proposal provides a standard for IPC time and is focused on patients rather than time and is in line with industry practices regarding the number of patients seen per week.

We are committed to resolving our issues in a balanced way that recognizes your needs and the needs of our patients. After much back and forth, we are at a point where in order to move this forward and find a solution, we need an independent, third-party mediator. We are pleased that NUHW has agreed to join with us in this. We are committed to working with the mediator to resolve the remaining issues, meet our therapists’ needs, and meet our patients’ needs for care.

We value you and the important work you do. On behalf of our patients, we’re grateful to those of you who have chosen to continue to provide care over the last two months, and we look forward to welcoming all of you back.


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