Kaiser pays up

June 17th, 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Last week, Southern California Kaiser NUHW members began to receive checks totaling over $2 million in back pay plus interest covering raises that Kaiser Permanente withheld from us after we voted to join NUHW.

These checks represent a powerful victory for us. By ordering Kaiser to pay up, two federal judges made clear what we have known since we founded NUHW: all our scheduled raises, benefits and other working conditions are protected by law when we vote to join NUHW. 

Our checks also represent a larger victory for all healthcare workers. No matter what lies and scare tactics SEIU or our employers may use to try to confuse us, we have the right to choose our union.

We are seeing more clearly every day how SEIU and Kaiser are trying to team up against us.

The National Labor Relations Board recently concluded 23 days of testimony regarding last fall’s election for 43,000 Kaiser Service and Tech employees. We have released the transcripts of the hearings in full, so you can see for yourself the volumes of evidence showing how SEIU lied to Kaiser workers outright and how Kaiser actively favored SEIU.

That should come as no surprise. When Kaiser told SEIU officials last year that they wanted to reduce pension benefits for 43,000 SEIU members by drastically reducing the lump sum payment option for retiring workers, SEIU’s officials agreed.

Then, when Kaiser demanded cuts to SEIU members’ health coverage in national bargaining, SEIU agreed to work with Kaiser to convene a committee of “experts” tasked with crafting a plan to contain the costs of healthcare coverage for the employer. The result will almost certainly mean reducing workers’ healthcare benefits and/or raising co-pays and implementing premium payments for workers.

With NUHW, instead of accepting Kaiser’s takeaways, we are exposing Kaiser’s profits and unsafe staffing levels and fighting back against the very same cuts that SEIU has agreed to accept. Our bargaining in NUHW is transparent and is controlled by healthcare workers ourselves. We have shown that we are willing to strike for our rights; two thousand of us took to the streets in Los Angeles on May 18 in a powerful show of unity and strength.

We’ve learned from experience that when we stand together, we can prevail over both Kaiser and SEIU. We are proud to be members of NUHW and we are united to win a fair contract at Kaiser.

In unity and strength,

Turusew Gedebu Wilson, Health Educator, Kaiser Wateridge

Turusew Gedebu Wilson, MS, RD
Health Educator II, Kaiser West Los Angeles/Wateridge
National Union of Healthcare Workers  

P.S. Follow our fight for a fair contract with Kaiser at KaiserUnited.org.