Kaiser Agrees to Stop Breaking Law, Restores Workers’ Raises and Benefits

NewsJanuary 6, 2011

Affidavit from Kaiser VP demonstrates that SEIU misinformed workers

LOS ANGELES – After being ordered by two judges to comply with the law, Kaiser Permanente has agreed to restore illegally withheld raises and benefits to 2,300 National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) members in Southern California.

Yesterday, Kaiser Permanente Regional Vice President of Human Resources Arlene Peasnall filed an affidavit in federal court, stating that “(t)he 2% across the board pay increase has been granted to employees represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers,” and that continuing education and paid steward training benefits have been restored.

In hundreds of thousands of mailers, leaflets and phone calls last summer, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) pointed to Kaiser’s refusal to honor its obligations to Kaiser-employed NUHW members stipulated in the predecessor union’s contract as evidence that Kaiser workers would lose their raises and benefits if they voted to join NUHW. 

In a legal ruling on Kaiser’s decision to withhold raises and benefits from NUHW members, Administrative Law Judge William Schmidt reaffirmed what NUHW explained to Kaiser workers in response to SEIU’s false claims: “It is settled law that when employees are represented by a labor organization their employer may not make unilateral changes in their terms and conditions of employment, such as their wages.”

Three days later, Federal Judge Gary Allan Feess issued an injunction against Kaiser, charging the company with “failing and refusing to bargain collectively and in good faith” with NUHW “by unilaterally implementing changes in terms and conditions of employment during negotiations for a collective-bargaining agreement.”

With Peasnall’s affidavit, Kaiser has accepted the judges’ findings that its conduct was in violation of the law.

Despite this clear legal outcome, SEIU continues to misrepresent the law and the facts to workers at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley and Oakland who will soon deliver their ballots in an election between NUHW and SEIU. SEIU organizers have told workers there that the employer will have legal standing to ignore their current contract should NUHW prevail, and, in a recent leaflet, claimed that “many of the workers that voted for NUHW have LOST raises.”

Both claims are plainly contradicted by the judges’ decisions, by Peasnall’s affidavit, and by Kaiser’s implementation of the illegally withheld raises and benefits.

Read the affidavit at http://bit.ly/KaiserComplies