2012 National Bargaining Set to Begin March 6

An important message from Dennis Dabney, SVP Labor Relations, and John August, Executive Director, Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions

As the Labor Management Partnership enters its 15th year, Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions are preparing to begin the process of negotiating the fourth National Agreement. The National Agreement covers more than 92,000 union employees, some 20,000 managers and 16,000 physicians in nine states and Washington, D.C.

Our Labor Management Partnership is the most enduring, largest, and most successful of its kind in any industry. It puts industry-leading performance improvement tools into the hands of employees, managers and physicians who participate in unit-based teams to ensure that each Kaiser Permanente patient and member has the best possible experience. These 3,400+ teams are guided by the Value Compass, which puts the member and patient at the center of every decision and helps teams focus on achieving the highest quality, best service and most affordable care, as well as creating the best place to work.

We want to share with you that National Bargaining negotiating sessions will kick off March 6 and are scheduled to take place every other week through May 10. Bargaining topics include: Improving and Enhancing Partnership; Workforce of the Future; Growth of Kaiser Permanente and the Unions; Total Health; and Employee Benefits.

In preparation for National Bargaining, the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions held the first of three National Delegates Conferences on January 21.  More than 400 Kaiser Permanente workers representing Coalition unions throughout the organization gathered in San Jose to recommend the Coalition’s bargaining interests and receive training in interest-based negotiating — the negotiation method used throughout national bargaining. The Kaiser Permanente National Bargaining team will hold a similar orientation session next month.

Interest-based bargaining is an alternative to a more traditional, adversarial negotiations process where each party stakes out and announces positions — usually a specific solution to an unstated interest. In contrast, interest-based bargaining starts with each party clarifying broad interests, then seeks to create as many shared interests between the parties as possible. Both parties work on an issue together, explore options, and find a solution that meets the key interests. To date, interest-based bargaining has resulted in remarkably successful National Agreements that have addressed not only compensation, but a range of critical issues such as service, quality, worker and patient safety, organizational growth, affordability, and many more topics that help us all meet the needs of our patients and members.

We are committed to keeping you informed throughout the bargaining process while also minimizing distraction so our organization remains focused on the high-quality care and service of our members and patients. Kaiser Permanente managers will receive an email update after each bargaining session and union members will receive an update via the Coalition publication InsideOut. As in past negotiations, we will have a dedicated bargaining website that will launch next month. The website will provide background on interest-based bargaining, bargaining calendars, and details on bargaining teams and topics, as well as a place to submit and review questions and answers about bargaining.

While negotiations can be a challenging process, Coalition and Kaiser Permanente leaders are committed to the LMP as the best way to advance the mission of Kaiser Permanente and the Unions. We are dedicated to working together as cooperatively as possible, with mutual respect and the KP Value Compass as our guide. Our goal is to achieve the best outcomes for Kaiser Permanente, the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, and the patients, members, and communities we serve.

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