Thousands of UFCW members working at Kaiser Permenante from worksites and union halls nationwide cast ballots on a new three year collective bargaining agreement. A partnership of several unions, including the UFCW, has been in negotiations with Kaiser since early Summer on a comprehensive national contract that covers 45,000 workers at Kaiser hospitals, labs and pharmacies from coast to coast.
The unions and company remained at loggerheads on a handful of issues before coming to a conclusion at the end of September. Kaiser’s workforce is as far flung in Orange County as it is across the country. As Kaiser workers made their journey to Local 324 headquarters in Buena Park they knew some of the details encompassed in the new contract, but most of it remained a mystery.
After union staff, including Secretary-Treasurer Andrea Zinder, explained details of the new agreement with members, a palpable sense of relief and excitement characterized the typical reaction.
“I knew it didn’t have any take-aways and I knew it included a pay increase, but I didn’t know much more,” said Brandi Rodemanwho works at the Kaiser mail order pharmacy in Downey. “We did a lot better than a lot of people thought we would… I am very happy.”
Not only did union negotiators successfully dodge any contract take-aways this cycle, they also secured across the board wage hikes, bolstered workplace protections and improved training protocol for thousands.
“This is really a superb collective bargaining agreement and it happened because Kaiser’s members stayed united and focused on the finish line from the beginning,” Zinder said.