Kaiser Permanente reached a tentative three-year agreement with its union partner, Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which affects nearly 100,000 workers and is the largest private-sector union agreement so far this year. The agreement stipulates a 3 percent wage increase per year for employees within California and a 2 percent wage increase per year for employees outside of that state. All current benefits will be maintained throughout the term of the agreement and Kaiser Permanente has proffered $19 million per year to support two existing educational trusts that offer career development opportunities to its workforce.
The new agreement also opens the path for rewards for achievements in personal health. Beginning in 2013, the workforce as a whole will be eligible for rewards by lowering health-risk factors through smoking cessation, and lowering items such as workplace injury rates, blood pressure, and body mass index.
“Unions and management agreed that health improvement is an essential strategy for reducing chronic conditions – one of the leading drivers of rising, unsustainable cost,” said SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan. “Workers want to set an example and lead, so we intend to provide incentives for collective attainment of health goals – plus opportunities for union members to lead on health in their communities. This is a high-road, long-term strategy for the common good.”
The program will offer employee education opportunities, healthier food options, opportunities to participate in healthy activities during off hours, and the creation of healthier workplace environments.
“Health care simply costs too much, and as union workers we are absolutely committed to addressing cost and access – as well as care and quality,” said John August, executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. “The agreements we made today provide union members with the tools to improve care and efficiency – rather than chop care or benefits. Improvement, delivered by workers at the frontline, is the key to extending quality care to every person in our country.”