Kaiser RNs Begin Voting on New 3-Year Agreement
In Largest U.S. Contract, 18,000 RNs Win Stronger Patient Care Voice, New Workplace Protections
In membership meetings held across Northern and Central California beginning today, registered nurses and nurse practitioners at 86 Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics will vote on a new three year collective bargaining agreement. As the largest RN contract in the U.S., this agreement is expected to elevate nursing standards and workplace conditions across the nation.
Nurse negotiators for the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, which represents 18,000 RNs and NPs in those Kaiser facilities, are recommending approval of the new pact that also provides for significant economic gains and additional retirement security.
Nurses began voting on the agreement today in San Jose, meetings at all 21 Kaiser hospitals in the region continue through Friday. A strike that had been called for Wednesday and Thursday of this week has been cancelled.
CNA/NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro paid tribute to the “unity of the Kaiser RNs and their devotion to assuring the highest level of quality care for patients as well as protections for the nurses who deliver that care.”
“We look forward to a new chapter in our interactions with Kaiser,” DeMoro added. “We especially appreciate the commitment of Kaiser’s leadership to addressing our concerns, including working through the complicated problems associated with the changes in health care delivery, some of them related to the Affordable Care Act, and the attention it has paid in this contract to the health and safety of its registered nurses as well as patients.”
“This contract will set the national standards for all other hospitals to achieve patient protections and solidify the future of the nursing profession,” said Zenei Cortez, RN, chair of the Kaiser RN bargaining team and a co-president of CNA.
“As nurses we are strong patient advocates,” added Diane McClure, a Sacramento Kaiser RN. “This contract is important for our patients and our profession.”
“We have fought throughout the history of this organization for the highest standards for patient safety and excellent nursing practice,” said Kaiser Oakland RN Katy Roemer. “This contract assures the tradition continues.”
"This contract continues the CNA tradition of providing an atmosphere where patients come first and nurses' futures are protected," said Kaiser Manteca RN Amy Glass.
"I'm proud to be part of an organization that has fought for and won patient and nurse protections," said Cyndi Krahne, a Kaiser Santa Rosa RN.
Major components of the agreement include:
- A new committee of direct care RNs and NPs who will work with management to address the concerns RNs have about care standards in Kaiser facilities.
- Kaiser will hire hundreds of RNs which the nurses say should substantially improve the quality of care for hospitalized patients, as well as signaling a renewed commitment to RN training and employment opportunities for new RN graduates at a time many hospitals have frozen RN hires.
- Groundbreaking workplace protections for nurses from workplace violence to infectious diseases like Ebola to needle stick injuries.
- Substantial economic gains for RNs and NPs, many of them the sole source of income for their families or extended families. Over the three years of the agreement, all the nurses will receive 14 percent pay increases through across the board hikes and lump sum payments.
- Additional long-term retirement security for Kaiser RNs and NPs through maintenance of a secure pension plan plus a substantial increase in employer contributions to the nurses’ 401k pension plans for the 87 percent of Kaiser RNs with those plans.
- Annual paid release time, the first in the nation, for 25 RNs every year to participate in NNU’s disaster relief program, the Registered Nurse Response Network, which has dispatched hundreds of RNs to provide basic medical services following U.S. and global disasters from Hurricane Katrina to the Haiti earthquake to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
CNA said it also committed to helping National Union of Healthcare Worker Kaiser workers, including mental health clinicians, achieve a contract agreement as well.