About Us

Overview: Our Historic Ties to Labor

August 26, 2014


Kaiser Permanente Has 70 Years of History and a Strong Relationship With Labor

Kaiser Permanente’s legacy began with the support of organized labor, which opened the door for Kaiser Permanente to the public, 70 years ago. Labor is in our very DNA. We have more than 120,000 union members among our 175,000 employees, and we work cooperatively to preserve and strengthen the excellent relationships we have with nearly all of the unions that represent our employees.

“Kaiser Permanente works with 28 different unions to provide good pay and benefits, but also educational programs, and avenues for employees to help improve quality and care throughout the company — which is why they’re considered one of the premier health organizations in the country.”

— President Barack Obama
(Video of Remarks at White House Summit on Worker Voice, Oct. 7, 2015)

Our Labor Management Partnership is the largest and longest-lasting partnership of its kind in the country, including nearly 30 unions, covering almost 100,000 union members and tens of thousands of managers and physicians.

Representatives of our labor partners meet regularly with senior management to solve problems, address concerns and make progress on areas of agreement, and drive for continuous improvement. After all these years of working together, bringing labor into the strategy and involving labor and management in joint problem-solving, our partnership is more beneficial to labor, management and our members and the public than ever before.

While we have had disagreements at times, we have always been able to work through those disagreements, constructively, and ultimately agree on common goals in the best interests of our members, employees and the organization as a whole.

Labor History Milestones

1941 — At Henry J. Kaiser’s request, Sidney Garfield, MD, organizes prepaid health care for the largely unionized workforce at Kaiser-managed shipyards.

1945 — Kaiser Permanente health plan founded with support from the California Congress of Industrial Organizations and the American Federation of Labor’s Alameda County Central Labor Council.

1946 — Dr. Garfield signs the first union contract with Kaiser Permanente nurses, represented by the CIO-affiliated Nurses Guild.

1950 — Kaiser Permanente expands to Southern California when the International Longshore and Warehouse Union requests that the organization cover Los Angeles harbor workers.

1965 — Henry J. Kaiser receives the Murray-Green Award from the AFL-CIO, the first business leader recognized by the labor federation.

1969 — Kaiser Permanente expands east to Colorado with help from union leaders who want quality, affordable health care for union workers.

1995 — The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions is formed by 27 local unions to better coordinate bargaining with Kaiser Permanente.

1997 — Kaiser Permanente’s Labor Management Partnership is established.

2000 — Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions reach a national labor agreement and agree to a five-year contract.

2005 — The new National Agreement between Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions includes, for the first time, joint marketing of Kaiser Permanente.

2010 — The 2010 National Agreement sets consistent, uniform criteria for assessing the performance of unit-based teams.

2012 — The 2012 National Agreement creates our Total Health Incentive Plan that builds on Kaiser Permanente’s strategy of supporting wellness at work.

2013 — Coalition unions contribute to the signing up of tens of thousands of new Kaiser Permanente members through the Affordable Care Act.

2015 — The 2015 National Agreement includes a jointly developed flu vaccination policy for health care workers who deal directly with patients.

For more information:

Kaiser Permanente’s Labor Management Partnership

A History of Total Health,” Kaiser Permanente’s history blog

Employees are Critical to Our Care

We value our employees and the important contributions they make for our 9.5 million members each day. We believe if we have the best employees we can provide the best care for our patients.

Our Benefits

At Kaiser Permanente, we understand that there is a direct correlation between happy employees and happy members, and we find many ways to reward our employees for their hard work, compassion and dedication. We offer competitive salaries and comprehensive benefit plans, a tremendously diverse array of opportunities and a culture that embraces growth and development. Another benefit of working for a leader in health advocacy is the role we play in supporting our employees’ health. In fact, in June 2014, Kaiser Permanente was named a Best Employer for Healthy Lifestyles by the National Business Group on Health.

Our Diversity

Diversity, inclusion and culturally competent-medical care are defining characteristics of Kaiser Permanente’s past, present and future. We are proud that our employees and physicians reflect no racial majority — and that three-quarters of all employees, nearly half of the executive team, and more than one-third of our physicians are women. Maintaining these industry-leading levels of diversity enable us to provide the best care to our members and patients.


1 Ranked highest in member satisfaction for Kaiser Permanente Health Plans in the California, Colorado, South Atlantic, Northwest, and Virginia-Maryland-Washington, D.C. regions, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Member Health Insurance Plan Study.SM Also ranked highest in the J.D. Power and Associates Employer Satisfaction Study.SM