Major Tentative Pact for 19,000 Kaiser RNs/NPs Rebuffing Contract Cuts with Patient Care Gains
Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners who work at 21 Kaiser Permanente medical centers and dozens of medical clinics and office buildings in Northern and Central California, have won tentative agreement with the giant health system on a new five year collective bargaining contract that protects existing standards while adding new patient care protections for Kaiser enrollees.
The proposed pact, secured Friday night, will now go before the 19,000 RNs and NPs for ratification in a series of membership meetings beginning Monday, March 26 and running through mid-April. The California Nurses Association/National Nurses United represents the 19,000 nurses.
“We successfully bargained the addition of RN positions to oversee Kaiser’s transition to a new patient classification system ensuring patients are provided safe care and treatment with the new change,” said CNA Co-President Zenei Cortez, RN, chair of the Kaiser RN/NP bargaining team.
"Protecting the economic security of our future RNs is essential to defending the health of everyone who will be a patient today and tomorrow," CNA Executive Director Bonnie Castillo said. “This agreement gives us a strong foundation for health security for Kaiser nurses and patients for the next five years in a turbulent time of health care in our state and nation.”
Key contract provisions include:
Staffing Enhancements - Won 150 RN full time equivalents to facilitate the shift of Kaiser’s long used computer system, GRASP, to a new more complicated system, EPIC. 106 positions shall be posted within 90 days of contract ratification.
The patient classification system is used to assess the severity of illness for each individual patient and the appropriate level of nursing care, beyond the mandated minimum RN staffing, as well as recommended treatment.
“The additional RN staffing to safeguard the transition was a very high priority for our bargaining team and part of our overall effort to promote increased safety for our patients,” Kaiser Roseville RN Dolores Trujillo said.
No Benefit Takeaways Or Reductions - Complete protection of the nurses’ pensions and medical benefits for current and retired RNs/NPs. Improvements to dental and education benefits.
Protection Of One Wage Scale For All RNs/NPs – Kaiser agreed to withdraw a four-tier proposal for major wage reductions for new RN and NP hires in the Sacramento region and California’s Central Valley. The Kaiser RNs and NPs viewed this major concession demand as especially onerous.
“There was never a doubt that we would remain united against a wage proposal that would promote workplace divisions between current nurses and new RN graduates, and would have undermined future nurse recruitment efforts at a time when our RN workforce is aging,” said Kaiser RN and CNA-Co-President Deborah Burger.
Further, the nurses have noted, patients and employers pay the same premiums in Sacramento and Fresno as they do in the Bay Area.
Wage Increases For All Kaiser RNs And NPs - The pact provides for an across the board 12 percent wage increase and 3 percent lump sum over five years.
Inclusion Of The Patient Care Coordinator RNs – Addition of 600 RN Patient Care Coordinators into the contract with other Kaiser RNs and NPs.
Patient Care Coordinators work as discharge planners and case managers, who coordinate care planning after patients are discharged from the hospital to home or outpatient settings as well as patient care resource management and other review duties.
Previously non-union, the PCCs voted in January 2017 to join their CNA colleagues, but Kaiser, despite verification of their rights by the National Labor Relations Board, has refused to recognize their democratic vote and agree to include them in system wide CNA bargaining – until now.
“Securing the bargaining rights for our PCC sisters and brothers, including recognition of their democratic right to act collectively with other Kaiser nurses, was an important part of these negotiations. We are very happy that Kaiser has finally agreed to honor their rights,” said Diane McClure, a Kaiser South Sacramento RN.