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The following message about sympathy strike notices was sent to all Kaiser Permanente Northern California employees

Dear colleagues,

The last 20 months of this pandemic have been an incredibly challenging and stressful time for everyone working in health care. Our entire workforce has responded in remarkable fashion to make sure we continue to provide our members and patients with the expert care they expect to receive from Kaiser Permanente. We are extremely grateful for all that you are doing.

It’s still stressful. And there is a lot of ongoing talk and even confusion, about the many different contracts being bargained right now.

SEIU-UHW, Local 29, and Local 20 are asking their union members to walk out on our patients on Thursday, Nov. 18, in support of the current Local 39 engineers’ strike. We know and respect that you have a choice but given where we are in bargaining with Local 39, we hope you will choose not to walk off the job.

It’s important for you to have the facts so you can make up your own mind.

We continue to bargain actively with Local 39. We have proposed no take-aways. We are offering across-the-board pay increases and bonuses that, along with Local 39’s rich medical and retirement benefits, will keep our engineers among the best compensated in the profession. In fact, Local 39’s retirement benefits are the best among Kaiser Permanente’s union-represented employees.

For years, Local 39 — as the sole engineers’ union in the region — has demanded richer and richer contracts from employers, and in turn used these to demand that other employers top them. Local 39’s demands in bargaining with Kaiser Permanente aren’t tied to the workforce’s economic needs, or company performance. They also do not take into account the affordability concerns of our patients and members.

The truth is, our proposal to Local 39 will absolutely keep our engineers in line with other major employers in Northern California, as we are committed to market competitive wages and generous retirement benefits for all employees.

You may see news reports about labor unrest occurring in many parts of the country, prompted by all sorts of reasons, including the pandemic and the economy. However, while it is tempting to lump Kaiser Permanente into this activity, we are truly different.

Kaiser Permanente is indisputably one of the most labor-friendly organizations in the United States. Our great relationship with labor is in our organization’s DNA, starting the moment Henry J. Kaiser opened his employee health plan to others and unions quickly embraced Kaiser Permanente. We have the longest-running and most successful labor management partnership in the nation.

We are the largest health care union employer in the United States — with nearly 75% of our employees working under collective bargaining agreements — and always strive to work cooperatively and constructively with the unions that represent our employees. In the last 5 years alone, we have successfully reached agreements with dozens of unions. We will continue to bargain in good faith with Local 39 in the hope of reaching a final, mutually beneficial contract as soon as possible.

You are being asked to forego your pay and use your time on Nov. 18 in support of a union representing workers who are already getting among the highest compensation in the country, including retirement benefits twice that of anyone in the Kaiser Permanente represented workforce. This will not bring us closer to a contract with Local 39 or any union.

Being present for our patients and members who need us is our mission, our commitment, and the reason we are here. Anything short of that is letting down those whose lives, quite literally, depend on us. We want all our employees to be present at work on Nov.18 and every day.

Thank you for your continued compassion, commitment, and hard work, and for considering the needs of those who depend on us.

Debora Catsavas, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, KFHP/H

Darin Tankersley, PhD, Chief of Medical Center Administration and Operations, TPMG

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