OAKLAND, Calif. – Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest nonprofit integrated health system, was one of three recipients today of the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award from American Rights at Work, an advocacy and public policy organization responsible for promoting and defending workers’ rights since 2003.
Kaiser Permanente received the award for “creating a management-union partnership based on mutual trust and respect.” Lon O’Neil, senior vice president and Chief Human Resources officer for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Hospitals, accepted the award on behalf of Kaiser Permanente at a ceremony held at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.
The ceremony was hosted by American Rights at Work board member and Emmy Award-winning actor Bradley Whitford (of NBC’s The West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip).
The two additional award recipients are international advocates Human Rights Watch and TV Judge Greg Mathis.
“Standing up for the rights of working people is about protecting the American Dream. Employers like Kaiser Permanente, international advocates like Human Rights Watch, and celebrities like Judge Greg Mathis are helping to build a fair and prosperous future for workers that is worth dreaming about,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, executive director of American Rights at Work.
“We are honored to be recognized for continuing to embody the principles Eleanor Roosevelt lived by-as a leader in preventive care, and an employer committed to the rights and working conditions of our employees,” said O’Neil, in accepting the award. “Our commitment to workers has been fundamental to Kaiser Permanente from its earliest days — as an employer, and even more importantly as a provider of health care for workers and their families, which is not to be taken for granted in our country today.”
Kaiser Permanente founder Henry J. Kaiser was a friend of both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Mrs. Roosevelt was particularly struck by the Kaiser Permanente child care program and medical care program in 1943, when she visited Kaiser’s World War II shipyard on the Columbia River in Vancouver, Wash. The housing projects for workers and Dr. Sidney R. Garfield’s medical care program at the innovative hospital he had designed impressed her greatly.
For the past decade, Kaiser Permanente’s management and a coalition of 30 local and six international unions representing 90,000 healthcare workers and support staff have crafted a partnership that solves problems, improves patient care, and makes Kaiser Permanente a better workplace.
The Labor Management Partnership has produced impressive results. Kaiser Permanente reports a 20 percent reduction in workplace injuries, an increase in patient satisfaction, impressive cost reductions while accelerating services, and improved job satisfaction and retention since the partnership began in 1997. “Employees represented by the union coalition are committed to a high-performance vision,” said John August, executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. “Workers want to perform and do the best job that they can.”
American Rights at Work advocates for the protection of workers’ rights to organize unions and bargain collectively through research, policy analysis and public education. In addition to working with unions, the group supports employers, like Kaiser Permanente, that recognize workers’ rights.
Sal Rosselli, president, SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West; Margaret Peisert, assistant director, Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions; and Judith Saunders, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Hospitals’ director of National Labor Relations joined O’Neil at the ceremony, along with some 400 labor leaders and their colleagues.
Each year, the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Awards celebration brings together several hundred leaders for a reception and program honoring allies outside the labor movement who, like Eleanor Roosevelt, use their influence and talent to support workers’ rights and economic justice causes. The 2007 honorees join a distinguished list of previous awardees as diverse as Cingular Wireless, musician Tom Morello, actor Danny Glover, and Harley-Davidson Motor Company.
About Kaiser Permanente
About Kaiser Permanente Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.6 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.