Student Loan Repayment Program fully restored in Southern California

NewsSeptember 7, 2023

As we fight to preserve Patient Management Time (Indirect Patient Care Time) in Southern California, our victory in stopping Kaiser’s attempt to limit access to its Student Loan Repayment Program is an important reminder of our collective power.

Earlier this year, Kaiser management suddenly denied student loan repayments for many NUHW members, claiming that the contract didn’t specifically list a master’s degree in social work as being eligible for student loan repayment.

Kaiser’s claim was deeply cynical, because:

  1. During contract bargaining, Kaiser had insisted on eliminating the student loan repayment program, but our bargaining committee was resolute that it would not settle the contract without continuation of the program.
  2. Kaiser had provided student loan reimbursement for graduate level social work programs under our previous contract and for the first year under our current contract.
  3. Eliminating student loan repayment would have made it harder for Kaiser to recruit and retain clinicians at a time when it’s claiming that it needs to increase staffing to comply with SB 221, the timely access law that we sponsored and got passed through the legislature.

Kaiser seemed poised for a fight, but quickly backed down after our bargaining team members attended a grievance meeting.

While not admitting any wrongdoing, Kaiser restored the benefit to over 200 NUHW members who had been previously denied repayment of their student loans, and the loan repayments are now being made.