New contract brings wage increases to 3,000 KPWA workers and improvements needed to address quality patient care
The following is from SEIU Healthcare 1199NW:
SEATTLE (Nov. 9, 2023) — Kaiser Permanente Washington healthcare workers have overwhelmingly voted to ratify the new contract negotiated between SEIU Healthcare 1199NW and Kaiser, bringing much-needed wage increases and other important victories to 3,000 KPWA workers across the state.
A tentative agreement was reached five days before KPWA workers planned to begin a statewide strike, and came two weeks after the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions – which includes SEIU Healthcare 1199NW – reached an agreement for a new contract for Kaiser workers nationally, which has been ratified as well. Both the national agreement and the newly ratified state agreement will apply to KPWA workers.
“This new contract with Kaiser Washington is a win for both healthcare workers and patients,” said Jane Hopkins, registered nurse and president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. “Our strength and solidarity as a union of healthcare workers, as well as overwhelming support from the community – our patients – moved Kaiser Permanente management toward doing the right thing. We’re confident these historic wins will improve access to quality care for patients, and allow Kaiser to begin addressing the staff recruitment and retention crisis.”
Combined with the underlying wage increases won in the national contract, every Washington Kaiser worker will see a 17-25 percent wage increase in the next 12 months, and between a 27-35 percent wage increase by the end of the contract. Both contracts will expire September 30, 2027.
“Frontline healthcare workers told Kaiser executives that competitive wages that keep up with other Washington healthcare providers were key to addressing the staffing shortage at Kaiser facilities,” said Alanna Martin, a clinical social worker in Seattle and a member leader on the bargaining team. “These wage increases are significant, and they were necessary for Kaiser to catch up with the market and keep up with staff recruitment and retention.”
Specific increases include, in combination with the national agreement, a 30 percent total raise for RNs, LPNs, and most techs, 27 percent for ARNPs, and – importantly – a 35 percent increase for environment service workers who help keep facilities clean, free of infection and safe for patients but have seen a long stagnation in wages. Additionally, the new contract addresses racial justice and workplace equity concerns raised by workers, many of whom are BIPOC and immigrant workers, and have faced discrimination in their workplaces.
“A lot of hard work went into these historic agreements, but I am confident this deal will help retain and recruit the best staff from across our state,” said Marie Neumayer, a medical assistant in Spokane, member leader on the local and national bargaining teams, and rank-and-file vice president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. “We couldn’t have achieved them without the power of both union solidarity and solidarity and support from patients across Washington.”
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and healthcare workers with over 31,000 caregivers throughout hospitals, clinics, mental health, skilled home health and hospice programs in Washington state and Montana. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW’s mission is to advocate for quality care and good jobs for all.
The Stand (Oct. 31) — Tentative deal at Kaiser Washington averts strike