Kaiser mental health strike averted

California Pacific Medical CenterNovember 15, 2015

Clinicians reach tentative agreement with Kaiser on patient care standards, other issues

OAKLAND — Kaiser Permanente mental health clinicians represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers have called off the strike scheduled to begin Monday, November 16. With former California State Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg acting as mediator, clinicians have reached a tentative agreement with Kaiser on a three-year contract, including agreements on the two central issues in the dispute.

Under the agreement, Kaiser clinicians — psychologists, psychiatric social workers, and marriage and family therapists — will be free to advocate for their patients and meet their treatment needs without threat of discipline or discharge. The union and Kaiser have also reached an unprecedented agreement on a 1:4 ratio of new-to-return patients to ensure timely access to ongoing mental health care for Kaiser members. Kaiser has also agreed to rescind its proposed cuts to pension benefits.

“Kaiser has opened the door to a positive working relationship with us with the goal of providing timely, quality care to our patients by hiring hundreds more mental health professionals,” said Clement Papazian, a psychiatric social worker at Kaiser Oakland and the elected president of NUHW’s Northern California chapter of Kaiser mental health clinicians. “It’s a positive first step.”

The agreement for a three-year contract will go to members for a vote in the coming weeks.

The National Union of Healthcare Workers is a democratic, member-led union that represents 11,000 California healthcare workers, Kaiser mental health clinicians, optical workers, and healthcare professionals.