Following Historic Nurse Strike, Here’s What’s in the New Kaiser Permanente Labor Deal

Joelle Y. Jean, FNP-C, BSN, RN
Updated October 23, 2023
Edited by
    The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions reached a tentative agreement with Kaiser Permanente after a three-day strike. Learn more about the biggest wins for union nurses and other healthcare teams.
    Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers celebratingCredit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
    • The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions reached a tentative agreement with Kaiser Permanente after a three-day strike.
    • The biggest win for union members was a 21% raise (5-6%) across the board over four years.
    • Union members are set to vote on the tentative agreement on October 18.

    A week after roughly 75,000 nurses and other healthcare workers with the Kaiser Permanente health system conducted the largest healthcare strike in history, the union representing them reached a major tentative agreement with Kaiser Permanente leaders.

    With the Acting U.S. Labor Secretary Julie Su stepping in to mediate, the two sides hammered out a new contract set to be ratified later this month. The unionized healthcare workers, including nurses, pharmacists, and technicians, are expected to vote yes for the new contract.

    “Millions of Americans are safer today because tens of thousands of dedicated healthcare workers fought for and won the critical resources they need and that patients need,” said Caroline Lucas, executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, in a statement on the coalition’s website.

    It was a massive victory for Kaiser Permanente nurses and other healthcare professionals around the country. But what exactly did they gain in the deal? Here’s a full breakdown.

    The Kaiser Nurse Strike: Background

    The union coalition represents 11 unions across the U.S., including California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

    The coalition organized the strike to highlight the unfair labor practices, including low wages, unfair healthcare and pension benefits, short staffing, and more. In response, workers approved a strike that began on October 4th and ended on October 6.

    The new deal was released a week later, which announced that union healthcare workers had reached a tentative agreement.

    “What the parties have achieved here in Oakland demonstrates, once again, that collective bargaining works. When workers have a voice and a seat at the table, it can result in historic gains for workers, their employer, and our country,” said Su in a statement on the coalition’s website.

    Kaiser Permanente’s Deal with Nurses: What’s in It?

    The major win in the newly drafted deal is a 21% across-the-board raise over a four-year term. Before the strike, an enhanced proposal supported by Kaiser management only proposed a 12.5-16% raise (3.4-4%) over a four-year term.

    Here is a breakdown of what’s in the new tentative agreement:

    • Increased California minimum rates are $23, $24, and $25 over three years.
    • In states outside of California, minimum rates increased to $21, $22, and $23 over three years.
    • A more detailed plan for a redesigned Performance Sharing Plan (PSP) will be paid out in March 2024. The plan will have a guaranteed minimum of $1,500 (prorated for part-time), potentially more based on goals. The plan further outlines payouts:
    • If Kaiser fails to meet financial goals, members will be paid $300 per labor goal met (up to $1,200 for four labor goals).
    • If Kaiser meets financial goals, members will be paid $700 per labor goal met (total potential payout of $2,800).
    • If Kaiser strongly exceeds financial goals, members will be paid $950 per labor goal met (total potential payout of $3,750).
    • A $1,500 ratification bonus for healthcare workers
    • Renewed outsourcing and subcontracting protections for all classifications, including revenue cycle workers
    • Improved medical and retirement benefits
    • Traveling for continued education for nurses and other healthcare teams
    • Tracking staffing vacancies

    The nurse strike is not the only issue the Kaiser Permanente system has faced recently. A recent $200 million settlement with California came after mental health patients experienced long appointment delays and a lack of consistent out-of-network referrals. Kaiser also failed to secure adequate contracts with behavioral health providers.

    With the recent rise in union strikes across all industries, this tentative agreement sets precedence for fair labor practices across all healthcare systems. The Kaiser vote is set to take place October 18. Coalition leaders created flyers and tentative agreement summaries at voting locations so union members know the details regarding the new agreement.