News & Views

Leadership of One Labor Union Isn’t Acting Like a Good Partner

January 23, 2018

  REGIONS: National 

Kaiser Permanente has a long and productive relationship with organized labor, and we are proud to employ more union workers than any other health care organization in the country.

While we may not always agree on every issue with the unions that represent our employees, we are absolutely committed to working constructively to work through and resolve disagreements that arise.

Unfortunately, sometimes union leadership may choose to attack our organization, instead of working cooperatively. We regard these attacks as unfair to our employees, misleading to our patients (who are left to wonder why the criticism suddenly stops once a contract is reached), and distracting for our physicians and care teams, who are focused on keeping patients healthy.

The leadership of one union, SEIU-UHW, has engaged in behavior that violates the spirit of our labor-management partnership.

Early February Update

The leadership of SEIU-UHW has notified California’s elections officials that the union has withdrawn their proposed ballot initiative, which would have harmed our organization, our employees and physicians, our patients, and our communities. We acknowledge the union’s decision to set aside the initiative.

There is more work to be done in reaffirming our Labor Management Partnership, and recommitting to our core principles of partnership, and that work is underway. This includes reaching agreement on mutual standards of conduct that will hold all of us in the Labor Management Partnership to a high standard of behavior and ensure accountability to our shared principles in the future.

Mid-January Update

The following information was sent to all Kaiser Permanente employees in California on January 23, in a letter mailed home:

SEIU-UHW union leadership recently filed a California ballot initiative that attacks the Kaiser Permanente model. This measure removes our fundamental ability to maintain the resources we need to care for our members and communities.

An objective review by the California Department of Finance and Legislative Analyst Office, published on Jan. 5, 2018, confirms the negative impact that the measure would have on Kaiser Permanente. It could:

  • Force Kaiser Permanente to no longer own our hospitals or medical office buildings.
  • Put at risk the integrated and seamless care between hospitals and medical groups.
  • Reduce financial reserves to support essential services — including advanced medical technology, pharmacy and radiology — making it harder to take excellent care of our patients.
  • Decrease the funds needed to support employee benefits including pensions.
  • Diminish our ability to support the most vulnerable people in our communities.
  • Specifically target and disadvantage Kaiser Permanente, while specifically protecting other health plans from its harmful effects.

In summary, if this ballot measure passes, it would directly undermine our ability to deliver on the mission we all believe in. We want to continue working in partnership with the unions that represent our employees, and reaffirm our Partnership. However, destructive efforts that target Kaiser Permanente and undermine our commitment to our patients and members is not a pathway forward.