San Francisco, CA

Kaiser and pharmacists reach deal, narrowly avoiding strike

Built in the Bay
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

By Ian Firstenberg

An eleventh-hour deal made overnight Monday circumvented a strike by Kaiser Permanente pharmacists in Northern California, according to a statement from the company.

The tentative agreement was reached at 1 a.m. Monday morning, and thus canceled the eight-day strike pharmacists with the company had planned, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The deal guarantees yearly wage increases throughout the three-year contract and opportunities for bonuses. Additionally, the deal guarantees all workers retain their health coverage and retirement benefits.

The latter two conditions came under attack from Kaiser, citing fiscal concerns stemming from the pandemic, and was the main impotence for the strike originally.

That, however, is not the only labor dispute embroiling the private insurer. Local 39 Operating Engineers, which represents engineers, is slated to continue its month-long strike after its contract expired. In support of the engineers, other unions have authorized a one-day strike later this week, with the Nurses Association and the National Union of Healthcare Workers planning the one-day event for Friday.

The Alliance of Health Care Unions, which represents 50,000 Kaiser workers, reached a tentative agreement with the private insurer on Saturday. That agreement eventually led to the aversion of the pharmacist strike when the Guild for Professional Pharmacists, which represents 2,100 Kaiser pharmacists in Northern California, reached an agreement with the healthcare giant.

Workers in Santa Rosa were expected to walk off the job Monday, as well as workers throughout the East Bay.

The planned nurses' strike, which was averted with the Saturday night deal, stemmed from what workers described as unsafe and taxing conditions throughout the pandemic as well as a planned 26% wage cut for new hires.

Kaiser nurse Semanu Mawugbe told The Guardian that the planned 1 percent raise amounted to a "slap in the face" as that would not even keep up the 5% a year inflation rate.

In total, Kaiser has nearly 12 million healthcare customers, 39 hospitals and collects roughly $89 billion in annual revenue.

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