NLRB to wade into ongoing SEIU, Kaiser Permanente spat 

Kaiser Permanente
A union representing 85,000 of Kaiser Permanente's workers filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board earlier this year. (Ted Eytan/CC BY-SA 2.0)

The National Labor Relations Board will look into an ongoing spat between Kaiser Permanente and a union representing 85,000 of its workers.

Representatives from the Coalition for Kaiser Permanente, which includes 11 unions across eight states and the District of Columbia, filed a complaint against the health system alleging that it was bargaining with them in bad faith.  

It also claims Kaiser wants to block unions from participating in “political action that could hurt the healthcare giant,” the union said

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“Kaiser is showing its true colors when it avoids bargaining and wants to silence our voices,” Lanette Griffin, a laboratory assistant at Kaiser Permanente in South Sacramento, said in the announcement. 

RELATED: Detroit Medical Center-affiliated hospital charged with unfair labor practices 

Kaiser Permanente said the complaint was filed by a subset of the coalition’s original members, which splintered off amid a dispute during the bargaining process earlier this year. It expects the NLRB to hold hearings on the complaint beginning in the spring.

The coalition split in response to a ballot initiative filed in January by the Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers West, which aimed to reduce insurance company’s reserves and which Kaiser says targeted them specifically. 

The health system has reached an agreement with the 21 unions that broke off from the system, it said, and that those former coalitions have formed their own group, the Alliance of Health Care Unions.  

“We are confident the NLRB will agree that Kaiser Permanente has acted lawfully and in good faith in our dealings with SEIU-UHW and other remaining unions following the breakup of the coalition and SEIU-UHW,” John Nelson, vice president of communications for Kaiser Permanente, told FierceHealthcare in a statement.  

Contracts for the members of SEIU-UHW are up in October 2019, Kaiser said.

The latest news in Kaiser’s ongoing dispute with SEIU comes on the heels of a five-day strike that included more than 4,000 of its mental health clinicians and was organized by the National Union of Healthcare Workers. The union said the strike was in protest over lack of mental health access, although Kaiser said it was really regarding compensation.

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