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Union health care workers in CA, HI approve historic contract

Photo credit: UNAC/UHCP
Union health care workers in CA, HI approve historic contract
By Mila Myles ·

Thousands of union health care workers at Kaiser Permanente facilities across California and Hawaii ratified their 2021 agreement this week. The four-year contract is now in effect, retroactive to Oct.1, 2021.

Members of AFSCME-affiliated UNAC/UHCP (United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals) voted online between Dec.7-8, the union announced. UNAC/UHCP represents over 23,000 registered nurses, pharmacists, midwives, physical therapists and other health care professionals across California and Hawaii.

“This is a historic moment for our union, for all Kaiser employees, and for health care workers across the country,” said Charmaine Morales, a registered nurse and UNAC/UHCP’s executive vice president.  “We showed what’s possible when you come together to stand for the highest professional standards and the highest quality patient care.”

UNAC/UHCP members soundly defeated a divisive two-tier proposal, ensuring fair wages and benefits for both current and future Kaiser Permanente health care professionals. Members in Northern California and Hawaii also approved their first contracts, securing major wage increases, protection for existing benefits, and specific language to uphold high patient care standards.

Union members and Kaiser management have been in negotiations since April 2021. Union members were focused on recruiting additional nurses and other health care workers as severe staffing shortages continue to threaten patient care. They also worked to secure competitive wages increases over the life of the contract. 

By ratifying the tentative agreement, UNAC/UHCP members will have access to new tools to enforce strong contracts. That includes new staffing language, new initiatives on racial justice, new provisions on patient and worker safety, maintaining benefits at current levels and securing wage increases.

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