From our brothers and sisters at Kaiser!
1. Our Patients Deserve Better
Kaiser has experienced a massive increase of hundreds of thousands of new members. Meanwhile, according to data supplied to us by Kaiser, we have lost 2,046 RN and NP positions in the past 3 years. Our hospitals are regularly understaffed, our time in the clinics with our patients is less since appointment availability and visit times have been cut, and we are all pressured to rush through our patient care in home care and the call centers. Our patients are sicker yet we have less time with them.
2. Our Proposals Are Critical for the Health & Safety of Our Future and Our Patients
Ask any of the nurses who have attended a bargaining session, and they will tell you the same thing – Kaiser is not negotiating fairly. We have presented Kaiser with proposals focused on improving staffing, education/training, break relief, and ensuring that we have the necessary resources and equipment to provide safe and effective patient care. Kaiser had flat-out rejected the majority of these proposals. For the remaining proposals, they gave us counter proposals that either grossly failed to meet the needs of our patients and nurses, or that would leave us even worse off than we are currently. Kaiser has also repeatedly stated that they are only interested in “cost neutral” solutions. We are insisting that Kaiser put patients’ premiums into frontline care.
3. Kaiser Permanente is making more money than ever. There is no need for takeaways. They have the financial ability to settle the contract today.
Kaiser is making $12 million a day in profit and holding onto $21.7 Billion in reserve funds. Kaiser has the financial ability to settle our contract in a way that would benefit nurses and patients.
4. Kaiser’s Response to Our Demands for Optimal PPE, Training, and Protocols for Ebola and Other Infectious Disease has been wholly Insufficient.
Prior to the first Ebola diagnosis in the United States, our Union was active in calling for protections for nurses across the globe, so that they can safely care for Ebola patients. When the two nurses who cared for Thomas Duncan had tested positive for Ebola, the world saw what most nurses had already known – the profit-driven health care industry in the United States has left our hospitals woefully unprepared to handle Ebola patients. Kaiser’s late response to the Ebola epidemic has been utterly inadequate. Nurses everyday are reporting that (a) they have yet to receive any hands-on interactive training on protocols, (b) they do not know where PPE is being kept, and (c) the PPE that they have seen does not meet optimal standards. In bargaining, we presented a proposal for Kaiser to provide optimal hazmat suits to nurses (like what CDC officials wear), supplemental insurance in case a nurse contract Ebola, ongoing and interactive training, and the establishment of a six person task force (3 CNA Nurses and 3 KP Managers) to meet on a monthly basis to review and develop infectious disease protocol. Kaiser has refused to accept this proposal, and rather has just proposed that we move to establish a committee to continue discussions about Ebola preparedness. While we’re not necessarily opposed to setting up a committee, we know it will be all for show if Kaiser is not willing to agree to essential fundamentals of Ebola preparedness (i.e. PPE and training).
5. Kaiser would Rather Spend Money on Traveler Strike-Breakers than Investing in the Training of their Own Staff
We submitted a proposal to Kaiser to increase training opportunities, and post all RN and NP positions as training positions, that any RN or NP could apply for and receive training. Kaiser has not accepted this proposal. Meanwhile, Kaiser is spending tens of millions of dollars on training, recruiting, transporting, lodging, and feeding thousands of nurses to serve as strike-breakers in the event that we go on strike. It is frustrating and offensive that Kaiser is willing to invest their billions of dollars on registry scab nurses, but not on their dedicated and hard-working RNs and NPs. If only KP as willing to invest this money into improving working conditions, staffing, and patient care, then we could settle the contract today.
6. Kaiser Wants to Continue to Harass and Intimidate Nurses Regarding Legitimate Sick Leave Use
Nurses at every facility have experienced instances in which they have been coached, counseled, investigated, written-up or disciplined when they exercise their right to use their paid sick leave. This has occurred even in cases in which nurses have provided their managers with doctor’s notes validating their illness or injury. This has occurred even in cases in which a nurse has had a serious or terminal diagnosis. This did not used to be a problem. But since KP began to offer bonuses to managers who reported low-sick leave use, it has been out of control. We presented a proposal to prohibit discipline for legitimate sick leave usage. Kaiser has refused to accept this proposal. This ultimately is an issue of patient safety. Due to the widespread practice of disciplining nurses when they call in sick, many nurses have admitted to coming into work sick, which puts patients at risk.
7. Kaiser Wants to Downgrade Our Patients’ Care
Kaiser has been very public and outspoken about their desire to lead the path in restructuring healthcare and downgrading our patients care. Kaiser wants to: reduce inpatient services, make the home the center of care, and move patients that would have formally been hospitalized through the outpatient clinics. Why does Kaiser want to reduce inpatient services? It is considerably more expensive to hospitalize a patient, than to have a patient seen in an outpatient clinic, or cared for in the home. For one, there are no ratios in the clinics or in the home. There are also no building or equipment regulations. This concerns us, because in an attempt to save costs, Kaiser is downgrading the level of care a patient needs. While no one enjoys being hospitalized, we nurses know that sometimes the hospital is the only place an acute patient can get the care they need. Unfortunately, we have seen patients being sent home with extensive and complicated home health care instructions into a setting without proper equipment or nursing staff. Kaiser favors this model of care because it reduces their expenditures and maximizes their profits. It is up to us, the RN and NP patient advocates, to demand that our patients get the appropriate level of care.
8. Kaiser has the Resources But Refuses to Use it for Our Patients
Decreasing frontline caregivers has helped “non-profit” KP generate $12 Million per day in record profits. Over the past 5 years, Kaiser has made over $10 billion in profit and has steadily cut care and services. This has been disastrous for patient care. Patient safety is compromised, as Kaiser is steadily increasing workloads for RNs and NPs.
9. This is a Fight to Preserve the Integrity of the Nursing Profession
A big aspect of Kaiser’s model of healthcare restructuring involves limiting the independent clinical judgment exercised by nurses. We have seen an increase in skill-limiting technology that bypasses our ability to exercise our clinical discretion. The Bargaining Team presented a proposal to enable nurses to override technological prompts if they feel that it would not be beneficial for their patient. Kaiser soundly rejected this proposal.
10. We Set the Standards Nationally for Nurses and Patients
Also, we need to remember that due to the fact that we are the largest bargaining unit of RNs and NPs in the nation, what happens with our contract will have long-lasting and far-reaching impacts. We will not allow Kaiser to cut care while KP is making more money than ever. Our obligation is to our profession and patients.