As an elected, local bargain committee member in 2010, I was 'sort of' involved with negotiations at that time. I say 'sort of' because ALL the negotiations actually took place at the NATIONAL BARGAINING level where none of us from the LOCAL BARGAINING committee participated. At the conclusion of the National Bargaining, we were provided a brief description of the tentative national agreement that had been reached. Basically the agreement would provide members with the minimal, annual, 3% wage increases, secure continued employer-funded healthcare with low co-pays and maintennance of our pensions and 401k accounts. Aside from a few minor alterations, the National Agreement remained primarily the same. But there was a catch; the agreement called for each local involved in the National Bargaining (those in the Labor Management Partnership [LMP]) to immediately present the offer to their respective memberships -WITH NO LOCAL BARGAINING TO TAKE PLACE-. The only role the elected local bargaining committee was to have was to offer a recommendation on whether the local's membership should vote for or against the tentative National Agreement. If the tentative National Agreement passed, so did an agreement to simply extend our Local Agreement WITH NO BARGAINING ON ANY ISSUE. This meant that NO RANK-AND-FILE UNION MEMBERS IN OUR LOCAL WHO PERFORM THE WORK FOR KAISER PERMANENTE WERE DIRECTLY ELECTED TO SERVE AS BARGAINING AGENTS IN CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS DIRECTLY PARTICIPATED IN NEGOTIATING OUR CONTRACTS.
Following a brief discussion, and despite the fact that I cited statistics showing that Kaiser Permanente was making record profits, I capitulated to my fellow elected local bargaining committee members that we should offer our recommendation that the offer be ratified by the membership.
One of the primary reasons for my reluctant capitulation was low membership participation; if the tentative National Agreement was voted down by the membership and our local union bargaining committee was subsequently unable to secure an improved offer which could lead to a strike vote and the membership had voted to strike...would most members even know about it? The fact is that contract ratification votes are chronically sparcely attended. Our local union represents over 4,000 employees at Kaiser Permanente and, of those 4,000+ employees, just 400 participated by voting in 2010. Our union, like all the unions involved in the LMP, did not do enough to combat member apathy and get members involved throughout the contract negotiations process. And, prqactically speaking, by this time in the process, it was too late to do anything about it.
Ratification of the tentative National Agreement meant that important areas of our local contract would not be addressed.
the wage disparity between KP workers in San Diego and KP workers in Los Angeles would continue to grow. Despite statistics that prove the cost of living in San Diego is actually MORE than the cost of living in Los Angeles, San Diego workers are paid LESS and they perform the same work.
the 'varied, varied and varied' scheduling practices would continue unabated. Look at the way jobs are currently posted now; most are posted as "varied hours" (some are so outlandish as to require availability of workers from "7:00am through 6:59am" [that's specifying that workers may be scheduled 24 hours per day]), "varied days" (some specify workers must be availble "Mon-Sun"), "varied locations" (workers could be scheduled ANYWHERE). Job postings like these are totally irresponsible towards work/life balance and have become more prevelant over the last several years. Unfortunately many members don't care about this issue..until after it directly effects them..and then it's too late and nothing can be done because the employer is just scheduling them in accordance with the requirements contained in their job posting. 'If you don't like it, transfer into a different department and/or position'; except, oh wait..many of those positions now have those same 'flexibility requirements'.
the '7th day worked' premium pay has been watered down to the point that it is virtually meaningless. Many of us who have been scheduled to work 7, consecutive days have been disappointed to learn that working 7 days consecutively no longer necessarily means that we will receive a premium on that 7th, consecutive day or work. It used to be a deterent for our employer to schedule us to work 7 days consecutively. It used to support a healthy work/life balance. Now, if we are scheduled to work 7 days consecutively and lose that personal time, we are told that that the 7th consecutive day premium does not apply because the 7 days "were not in the same pay period" or "were not in the same work week". I ask you, what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?!
These are some of the reasons that we NEED local bargaining. These issues need to be corrected.
This time around, things haven't changed all that much. But one difference is that, unlike with previous negotiations, out local didn't even hold nominations for local bargaining committee members. Apparently member involvement is even less a priority than it was before. That's scary considering that the strength a union has at the bargaining table directly corresponds to the involvement and participation of it's members.
This year, our involvement seems to consist of our employer leaving surveys in our breakrooms that ask us to weigh the important of items such as potential raises against continued employer-paid health benefits; how ridiculous is that!! So, if we rate raises higher on the list than continued employer-paid healthcare, will we receive a 3% raise and a reduction in employer-paid healthcare?! And how insulting that it's our EMPLOYER that is distributing these surveys, not our UNION. I'd love to know the low return rate on these, wouldn't you?
Some of our union stewards received a few stickers that they were requested to hand out to other members at work. This is supposed to show member involvement and solidarity. How many coworkers have you seen wearing these stickers? I can tell you I've seen exactly 0.
Lastly, all the LMP unions that are bargaining nationally have created the web site, www.Bargaining2015.org, which is supposed to involve us in the bargaining process. Great idea!!...except, according to the domain registration information, it's registered and administered by our EMPLOYER, KAISER PERMANENTE, and not any of our UNIONS. So, Kaiser Management is in charge of what information is made available to all the unions' members.
The way bargaining is conducted has changed in ways that realistically place even less emphasis on the importance of direct member involvement than before. This probably won't chnage because our local union leadership seems not to consider this a problem and the approximate 9% of our membership who participated in our local's election of officers last year re-elected all of these leaders -Not one new leader has been elected in over a decade. The definition of insanity is 'doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results'.
So on to the Tentative 2015 National Agreement predictions of an uninvolved OPEIU, Local 30 member; I predict:
our healthcare co-pay will double -INCORRECT
the National Agreement will, again, contain a provision stating that it must be immediately submitted to each local union's membership to be put to a vote with NO LOCAL BARGAINING to be doneCORRECT
despite KP's record PROFITS in excess of $14 Billion dollars since 2009, employees will be offered yearly pay increases of just 1%-3% which will lag behind inflation (when adjusted for inflation, we will all be earning LESS by the end of the contract than we are earning right now) -MOSTLY CORRECT (pay raises are 3%, 3% and 4% in first, second and third year respectively)
the pay disparity between Los Angeles KP workers and San Diego KP workers will continue to GROW -CORRECT
nothing will change with the way in which positions are posted ('varied, varied and varied' postings will continue to increase) -CORRECT
roughly the same group of people (only about 400 out of over 4,000) will participate in the ratification vote and the tentative agreement will pass with about 375 voting in favor (yes) and 25 voting against (no). -TBD
If issues like these continue to be ignored and more opportunities for us to be directly involved with bargaining the conditions that define our conditions of employment for the next five years aren't re-established, what can we do to try to create change? Join me in voting NO.
Are NUHW, CNA and The Pharmacists’ Guild just focusing on constant conflict with Kaiser Permanente when they should be focusing on joint success?
I believe they are in favor of joint success but they don’t believe the employer’s infiltration into the most personal areas of their workers’ lives is an example of 'joint success'. I think they’re looking ahead and trying to plan for the long term rather than just short term like the UAW should have done rather than trading shop floor rights for money during the Treaty of Detroit. Prior to and during each contract negotiation, KP workers are continually warned that KP 'wants to make us pay premiums for our healthcare'. If/When that happens, how do you think the wellness program will influence premium calculations when "It’s against federal law for corporations to discriminate by charging employees different insurance rates based on their health. Everyone at work is generally charged the same. However, there is an exception when 'bona fide wellness programs' exist. These programs allow an employer to vary premiums up to 20 percent based on risk factors such as cholesterol, weight, blood pressure and smoking" (Which Way To Wellness, Page 8).
The 'wellness program' is one of many issues. Sure, NUHW and CNA and The Pharmacist’s Guild and the IUOE would like KP to be successful but I believe they justly believe that they should share in that success. But instead, aside from a few gains (i.e. our slightly increased pension multiplier that we received wholly due to a 'me too' clause which was activated after UNAC won it), each contract seems to give away more benefits.
Further, it’s a well-known fact that employees in KP’s psychiatry department are significantly overworked and the department is woefully understaffed. It's not too ridiculous a demand that the workers have real influence in regards to minimum staffing needs (like the UAW workers at Ford having control of 'line speed').
On a related note, we’ve now basically lost total control over work schedules. Nearly all job postings are "varied hours, varied days, varied locations". This makes it incredibly difficult for workers to balance their personal life (i.e. get their children to/from school) and incredibly easy for a manager to reward workers (or retaliate against them). Fortunately, I currently have a manager who I don’t believe would do that, but my previous manager would, did and does.
A company making record profits should post job listings that show specific work days, specific work shift hours and specific work locations that a person who applies for said position will actually be working so (s)he may plan his/her personal life accordingly.
A company making record profits should not be taking retirement benefits away from its workers.
A company making record profits should not be telling their workers that they need to give up their healthcare information (or face increased co-pays/premiums).
A company making record profits should not admit to woefully under-serving patients who need and are reaching out for mental healthcare services by paying a $4 MILLION DOLLAR FINE (Carlson, California fines Kaiser $4M for violating mental health laws) levied upon it by California’s Department of Managed Health Care, and then not fix the under-staffing problem.
Do I believe that we (labor and management) should focus on joint success with KP? –Absolutely, but it needs to truly be joint success and, when it's not, it's better to stand up for ourselves by disagreeing rather than agree simply to avoid conflict and allow ourselves to be walked on. The adversity NUHW and the other unions face with KP has worked to engage their members which is the strength of the union. Whereas we, as LMP signatory unions, continue to trade away influence on the shop floor (and now even information about our personal lives) for 3% wage increases while suffering from a record low membership participation level of about 9%. It would seem as though hiding from conflict has a price and we're paying it and unions like NUHW are facing the conflict, fighting back and are stronger because of the struggle. "It’s the union in probably its purest form. A large group of people making a decision all at once, together, to do something brave—that builds the union. They can see their power in that moment" (Bradbury, The Logic of Short Hospital Strikes).
May 8th the NLRB held an election at Franke Toby Jones, the senior living community in Tacoma asking the 58 Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, Nursing Assistants and Certified Nursing Assistants whether or not they wished to be represented by OPEIU Local 23. The clinical staff at FTJ voted a resounding YES, with more than 80% margin.
"The clinical staff of Franke Toby Jones are very excited with the successful outcome of our vote to develop our union. We, as a team are looking forward to coming to the bargaining table with great ideas that will benefit FTJ as a whole, but most importantly, benefit our residents that we care for. We are eager for a new beginning of fair treatment with the support of OPEIU Local 23." Fran Fanene, LPN FTJ
"I am very excited about the overwhelming yes vote at FTJ. I am very proud of the solidarity that the Clinical Staff displayed, despite an aggressive anti-union campaign launched by management. Now the hard work of getting a fair contract begins. Local 23 is looking forward to helping the employees of FTJ build and strengthen their union." Allan Jacobson Business Manager OPEIU Local 23.
The UFW Needs You
Happy Holidays Everyone!
The United Farm Workers need your help! The workers at Gerawan Farming (one of the world's biggest fruit growers) have been fighting for a contract for years. The good news is that after years of stalling and legal challenges by the company the Agricultural Labor Relations Board has established a fair, three-year contract and the company was ordered to abide by the order. Unfortunately, they are refusing and would rather waste money on continuing legal fees instead of abiding by the law and investing in their workers.
Please donate to a good cause a few of the dollars that you saved from all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.
p.s. I wouldn't ask you to do something that I haven't already done.
AFL-CIO: "Work Connects Us All"
No One Likes a Tattle-Tale!
What are the primary challenges to our union? Member apathy seems to be the most significant issue. With greater member involvement, we could be more effective at the bargaining table.
On a related note, some members prefer to tell on their coworkers (union brothers and sisters), rather than talk to them! Recently, I learned that a fellow Steward's advice to a member was to 'tell the union' about the behavior of a fellow member. Her advice is wrong in several ways; first, you'd tell the boss in order to get someone in trouble (not the union). But, more importantly, instead of advising a member to tell on another member, first encourage the member to talk to his/her coworker. Unless there's a specific reason that talking with a coworker would be unhelpful to the situation, you should always attempt to afford them the opportunity to address and correct the issue.
OPEIU/KP Contract Ratified: 389 (YES) to 11 (NO)
The contract ratification vote took place last week. The agreement was ratified overwhelmingly by members at the California Service Center (CSC) and Kaiser San Diego. We are now waiting to hear from the other unions of the Coalition, so far everyone has ratified it.
Walter Allen Jr
Our National Agreement with KP expires September 30th, 2013 and our Union is beginning preparations for the upcoming bargain for a new contract. Our Union held the first of several, "Town Hall Meetings" on January 4th, 2012. Issues regarding the upcoming negotiations were discussed and Members were encouraged to attend. Additionally, the Coalition of KP Unions has created a survey in which Union Members may rate the importance of various bargaining issues. In order to have your voice heard, I suggest attending one of the union's town hall meetings and/or sending an email to the Union office with your comments in regards to new contract questions, concerns and/or suggestions.
While reading this article on Yahoo news, I thought this may be a good opportunity to remind Kaiser Workers about the 1.25% matching 401(k) contribution they're missing out on, if they're not contributing at least 2% into their 401(k). If this is you, call KP's investment service company, Vanguard, now.
Example: A KP Worker, earning $50,000 per year, who is not making a 2% minimum contribution into his/her KP 401(k) account, is losing out, every year, on a free $625 that KP would deposit into his/her 401(k) account!
Live and Learn
I just completed my first course at the National Labor College. I really enjoyed the class, Introduction to Labor Studies, and am looking forward to next semester's 'Film and Globalization' class! You're welcome to check out my final research paper.
Occupy San Diego
White Collar Union
This is the story of the struggle of America's most important office, clerical and professional white collar Union. It is still one of the country's youngest Unions, having received it's charter from the American Federation of Labor in 1945. It has grown, since it's inception to over 100,000 Members strong, larger in size than two-thirds of the national's labor organizations. To reach this point, it had to fight to overcome the hesitancy of white collar workers to join Labor Unions, the opposition of determined employers, and even the mixed reactions within the ranks of organized labor itself.
Although this book was first published more than 35 years ago and sometimes reads as though it was written by an attorney (because it was written by an attorney), it's still a worthwhile read with plenty to teach. It's an adventure through the conception, inception and journey of the Members of our Union. And you'll come to admire and appreciate some of our Union's early visionaries such as Harry Beech, George Firth, Mollie Levitas and Howard Coughlin.
Kaiser Workers: What if I'm Being Discriminated, against Retaliated against & Harassed by my Boss?
First things first; document, document, document. We all know how good Management is at documenting when they're working to give us a "corrective action", right? Well, we need to do the same thing here; We need to document WHO (the violator, the violated, and witnesses [this includes people whom may have heard or seen something]), WHAT (describe the perceived violation[s]), and WHEN (dates and [if possible] times). Now that you have all these things, where do we go with it? Well, despite discrimination and harassment articles being included within our contract (i.e. Article 2, Section 3 - Courtesy and Article 11 - Discrimination and Article 28 - Safety, etc.), our Union does not handle such matters within the grievance procedure (as explained on the actual grievance form itself, "Issues pertaining to...discrimination, harassment [sexual and otherwise] are addressed by human resources.") Therefore, it is recommended that you contact KP Human Resources (1-877-457-4772). If your concerns still haven't been adequately addressed, you may choose to contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Legal assistance may also be obtained through the Union Plus legal assistance center.
OPEIU Local 30 Elections
OPEIU, Local 30 Elections just wrapped up; the incumbents were elected to all three San Diego Executive Board positions. Congratulations Carmen Corral, Jan Nikodym, and Michael Ramsey.
Carmen Corral, Truck Driver Senior, KP
John Larson, Material Management Specialist, KP
Donald Murphey, Contract Specialist/ Labor Liaison, KP
Jan Nikodym, Lab Tech/ Phlebotomist, KP
Michael Ramsey, Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, KP
Dustin Teske, Distribution Courier, KP
Save The 2011 Football Season
For those of you who are returning guests to the site, you're familiar with our advocating on the behalf of some of our brothers and sisters within other Labor Unions, and this article is no exception; Revenues for NFL teams are at an all-time high. So are television ratings. Sponsorship deals, too.
But the elite club of NFL owners has already made a series of moves in preparation of locking out players and fans for the 2011 season. The millionaire (and in some cases billionaire) owners who lord over their teams are demanding extensive givebacks from the players who suit up and put their bodies through exceptional physical demands year round. This isn't merely about football players who in many cases are paid healthy sums of money for that physical punishment. It's also about the working stiffs who collect the tickets, maintain the stadiums, work in offices, manufacture and distribute the merchandise and other direct jobs that professional football provides.
And lets not forget about the millions of indirect jobs at bars, restaurants, parking lots and other places that would be adversely affected by a lockout. It estimated that a lockout would cost the average NFL city $160 million through lost jobs and revenue. (more...)
Sign the Petition
Is Outsourcing Really so Bad?
Our Local Agreement (Article 6, Section 5, Paragraphs 619 - 623) and our National Agreement (Section 1, K, 4 and Exhibit 1.K.4) both limit Kaiser Permanent's ability to outsource and/or subcontract our jobs. However, this hasn't stopped KP from doing it. As Members, we need to be more vigilant in enforcing our Union contract and report abuse of Management's outsourcing of Union-Member work.