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America’s leading integrated healthcare organization believes that partnering with employees and their unions empowers workers and provides patients with higher quality care.
In Partnership With: AFSCME, AFT, IFPTE, KPNAA, OPEIU, SEIU, UFCW, USW
A voice on the job means better patient care
In 2000, during the renegotiation of the contracts, Kaiser Permanente and its employees’ unions established a national bargaining agreement. The new contract created task groups of managers and union representatives to make collaborative recommendations on patient quality and service, worker health and safety, performance and workforce development, wages, benefits, balance of personal- and work-life, and a variety of other issues.
For many employees in the healthcare industry, the opportunity to participate in decision-making and negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment is directly related to providing quality care to patients. Kaiser now promotes its labor-management partnership as a method of valuing input from its employees who directly serve its health plan members. Management clearly understands that high performance in the organization grows out of entrusting each worker to help identify and solve problems, create business plans, and define work processes. Therefore, Kaiser’s goal is to involve employees in all aspects of decision-making. Company managers have found that the results are better decisions and improved morale, even when making decisions is difficult.
In Kaiser Permanente’s Ohio region, employees were involved in deciding how to preserve quality care and working conditions while the company faced more than $8 million in cuts to the state operating budget—a frequent occurrence in the industry. Managers, union leaders, staff, and physicians worked together to develop creative solutions. Although a number of union jobs were eliminated, the partnership managed to transfer employees, shift hours, and offer early retirement and fair severance packages. Their efforts resulted in minimal displacement of employees.
Since Kaiser implemented this joint partnership model, the company has experienced a 20 percent reduction in workplace injuries nationally, higher patient satisfaction, lower costs, improved retention rates and job satisfaction, and better performance on a range of indicators. This summer, Kaiser Permanente and its unions negotiated a new five-year national agreement, further strengthening and extending their partnership with a renewed commitment to improving healthcare delivery in all their clinics, hospitals, and offices.
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