Kaiser Permanente pharmacists reach agreement to avert weeklong Northern California strike

A tentative agreement between the health care system and the union representing those professionals was reached 1 a.m. Monday, the day they were set to walk off the job for a week.|

A weeklong strike that was to begin today and would have risked patients’ access to medications has been averted.

Kaiser Permanente has announced that at 1 a.m. this morning, the health care system and the Guild for Professional Pharmacists reached a tentative agreement for pharmacists in Kaiser’s Northern California region.

Kaiser stated its pharmacies will resume normal operations later today.

The tentative agreement is for a three-year contract rather than for four years, which Kaiser had proposed according to its Nov. 9 statement.

Kaiser in its statement today said its proposal includes guaranteed across-the-board wage increases each of the three years; no reductions or takeaways to existing family medical and dental coverage, prescriptions and office visits; and no changes in retirement income benefits and employer-subsidized retiree medical coverage. Kaiser also has proposed higher incentive bonus opportunities, according to its statement.

“The tentative agreement reflects our respect for Kaiser Permanente pharmacy professionals and the exceptional care they provide and provides industry-leading wage and benefit packages,” according to the statement. “The agreement is aligned with our commitment to high quality, affordable health care and to being the best place to work in health care.”

The Business Journal is awaiting a statement from the Guild for Professional Pharmacists.

Kaiser also stated today that it is not releasing further information about the tentative agreement at this time while the Guild communicates with its members. Specific details in the proposal released Nov. 9 are no longer accurate and don’t reflect the tentative agreement, the health care system added.

Kaiser’s Nov. 9 proposal had included wage increases over four years, including a 3% increase in the first year; 2% increase plus 2% bonus each of the following years; and a 120% increase in potential incentive payouts.

The Nov. 15 tentative agreement with the pharmacists’ union follows Saturday’s tentative agreement between Kaiser and the Alliance of Health Care Unions that affects nearly 50,000 Kaiser Permanente employees across the health care system, according to Kaiser’s statement today.

The statement continued:

“We are continuing to bargain in good faith with Local 39 Operating Engineers and the National Union of Healthcare Workers, and are confident we will reach agreements with these unions very soon. At this time, there is no change in the Local 39 Operating Engineers strike. Other unions have not yet rescinded their one-day sympathy strike notices for Thursday, Nov. 18 and Friday, Nov. 19. NUHW, the union that represents our mental health professionals has also announced a one-day strike for Friday, Nov. 19, which remains in effect.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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