March 29 Bargaining Update

The second session of national bargaining was held this week, from March 27 – 29, in Los Angeles. Nearly 350 members of the Common Issues Committee, observers from the unions, managers, staff and facilitators participated.

Before they could begin reviewing interests and generating options, members of the Common Issues Committee faced a big task: understanding the status of current Labor Management Partnership programs and other information vital to their subgroup topics. Most of the five issue subgroups (benefits; growth of KP and the unions; improving and enhancing the partnership; total health; and workforce of the future) used the bulk of their time during this session grounding themselves in this data and coming to a mutual understanding of today’s environment.

“I was struck by the sharing of information that is so important to the future of our workers and KP,” said Nate Bernstein, health care director, UFCW Local 7, Colorado and member of the benefits subcommittee. “That would never happen in a non-collaborative or non-partnership bargaining process, and it will let us focus on problem-solving work we need to do.”  Indeed, full information-sharing is one of the hallmarks of the interest-based negotiating process.

With that foundation in place, groups turned to the next two steps in the interest-based bargaining process—agreeing on the issues and working towards mutual interests. Labor and management participants in each subcommittee developed their interests separately and then began jointly working to determine their mutual interests. Interest-based bargaining  is different from traditional bargaining in that instead of taking positions, people focus on interests—what needs to be addressed for an agreement to be reached—and work toward a win-win solution that addresses those interests.

Joe Simoes, the Kaiser Permanente Division director of SEIU UHW and a member of the total health subgroup, observed that “people are being very thoughtful. We are taking a comprehensive approach to health and safety.”

In the next round of bargaining, which is scheduled for April 10-12, subgroups will proceed to the next steps in the interest-based process: exploring options to satisfy their mutual interests and agreeing on recommendations.

“Taking the time to work through all of the information without feeling pressured or rushed has helped us understand the issues, and that will help us come to more thoughtful and effective solutions,” said Maryanne Malzone-Miller, senior director, Human Resources Southern California and a member of the benefits subgroup.

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