Planned union protest avoided when AFL-CIO cancels Kaiser events

The AFL-CIO managed to avert a planned union-led protest by calling off scheduled national convention events that featured Kaiser Permanente this weekend, The Hill reports.

The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) had planned to picket the Sunday and Monday events highlighting the California hospital chain and health maintenance organization but found nothing to protest when AFL-CIO officials at the 11th hour removed the Kaiser sessions from the convention schedule.

According to The Hill, the NUHW complained to the AFL-CIO when it learned the convention was going to feature Kaiser as a model employee at two key events. "This is the same employer that has been fined by the state for $4 million for patient care violations. ... They are also at the bargaining table with us trying to demand the elimination of defined benefit pension plans and health plans for retirees," stated the Sept. 6 letter written by the NUHW to the AFL-CIO and obtained by The Hill.

The NUHW planned to distribute flyers to convention delegates and attendees at the opening session on Monday, according to Counterpunch. A booth reserved for Kaiser at the exhibit hall was vacant, the article said.

The Nation reported that during a press briefing AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka did not specify which party had cancelled Kaiser's presence. When questioned about the status of its relationship with Kaiser, the article stated Trumka replied, "There's been a Kaiser Permanente partnership for some time and many of the unions have worked through that. Does that mean it's perfect and there aren't problems? No, it doesn't mean that."

According to The Nation, a California Nurses Association official described the Kaiser cancellation as "quite a blow to the HMO given its partnership with the AFL and Service Employees International Union."

The Hill reports a Kaiser Permanente spokeswoman didn't offer comment when the press asked about the cancellation of the company's presence at the convention.

For more:
- read The Hill article
- here's the Counterpunch column
- check out the coverage by The Nation

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