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Minimal Progress in Kaiser Contract Negotiations June 25-26

 

The following bargaining update is from the Alliance of Health Care Unions negotiating a new nationwide contract with Kaiser Permanente:

Orange County, June 26 – In the first of two jam-packed days of bargaining, union negotiators initially made some progress addressing labor and management interests. But by the second day, negotiators had to contend with management proposals that were made and then withdrawn, and a management proposal to eliminate 15-year old “provisions in the National or Local Agreements that prohibit the employer from cancelling or reassigning staff.”  Kaiser proposed to be able to cancel shifts without pay up to two hours before shift start time, proposing to pay for half of the shift if the cancellation is less than two hours before start time.

The economic subgroup had a two-hour meeting and made limited progress on economic issues. The union team emphasized that we intend to preserve and improve our benefits, and win strong wage increases for all Alliance union members. Management proposed increased health care co-pays.

In a union caucus at the end of the second day, leaders encouraged union members to attend bargaining on Sunday, July 8. “This is the eleventh hour,” said Alliance Chair Kathleen Theobald. “This is when we need union members to show up and let Kaiser know we care.”

In the Operational Effectiveness subgroup, negotiators discussed forecasting the work of the future and staff. Management again called for flexibility, and the unions stressed that the key to flexibility is engaging labor early in the change process, before decisions are made.

“All the things that we’re trying to tackle really stem from the need to have meaningful participation from labor,” explained subgroup Union Co-Lead Lisa Loucks of UFCW Local 555.

The group discussed the need to fully include labor in forecasting and planning for the work of the future, and addressing barriers, especially barriers to placing employees who have achieved higher qualifications within Kaiser.

It was in this subgroup that management called to end the no-cancellation policy.

“There’s frustration on both sides,” added Kim Smith of UNAC/UHCP. “We need to implement the National Agreement so that management gets what it needs and we get what we need out of it.”

The Partnership subgroup focused on improving access to LMP training. In some areas and classifications, basic LMP learning has virtually ground to a halt, including even required LMP Orientation for new hires.

“We need to ensure that from the first time they walk through the door, new frontline workers and managers are trained in how to work in partnership and what the expectations are,” said Valery Robinson, USW 7600 President. “We don’t want to go backwards.”

To speed the development of updated national curriculum, agreement was reached to empower a national LMP Learning Group that will report quarterly to the LMP Executive Committee.

The group discussed tightening up and improving training standards for new hires.

The union negotiating team also continued to advance proposals to require minimum hours of LMP training every year for every employee, and to expand the current 4-hour LMP Orientation to a full 8-hour LMP Orientation class.

“Our goal is to make sure new employees, managers, and newly accreted union members receive partnership training in a timely manner,” said Katie Ekstrom, OFNHP Local 5017 and subgroup Union Co-Lead. “We are shifting our partnership culture through a renewed commitment to learning about partnership early.”

Local 400 Member Presented with National Nursing Award

Izzy Pistolessi, Kaiser nurse and union shop steward, shares her healthcare expertise as part of the Local 400 Lobby Day on March 23, 2017.

For 18 years, Isolina (“Izzy”) Pistolessi has worked as a nurse at Kaiser’s Falls Church Care Center, but she has done so much more. On the job, she is a mentor to other nurses, conducts outreach to the community, promotes public health, educates and cares for patients, and serves as a Local 400 shop steward. Off the job, she is a volunteer and leader with the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, a member of the Medical Reserve Corps, and a union activist who recently participated in Local 400’s Lobby Day.

And now, she is being presented with Kaiser’s 2016 National Extraordinary Nurse Award!

This is a rare honor, and she is only the second nurse from Kaiser’s Mid-Atlantic Region to receive this recognition. She will be flown to California in May to accept her award.

“I’m very fortunate to work for Kaiser Permanente and do the work that I love to do—caring for patients and nurturing other nurses so they become better,” Izzy said. “And I’m proud to serve my co-workers as a shop steward. To receive this honor is a complete surprise—but it’s also wonderful.”

Izzy is engaged in so many activities, it’s hard to know where she finds the time. At Kaiser, she works in the internal medicine/family practice clinic and she teaches a class in diabetes to Spanish-speaking members every other month. “I talk about how diabetes affects your body, how to take medication, how to better care for yourself, how to identify symptoms, and how to keep track of your blood sugar so you don’t wind up going to emergency room,” she said.

As a member of the Washington, D.C., chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, and secretary this year, Izzy and members of the organization have been involved in community programs like Feria de la Familia, a program where they provide blood pressure screening to members of the community and offer information on how to improve their health to underserved communities.

Local 400 shop steward, Izzy Pistolessi (first row, far left), also volunteers with the D.C. chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. (Photo via Nahndc Chapter Hispanic Nurse Facebook page).

“I also participated in a program, inspired by Michelle Obama, called Movimiento,” she said.  It is also sponsored by the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. “A group of us spent a day at a Washington, D.C., public school, where we did a health fair and we taught children about proper nutrition, what foods to eat and the importance of exercise, as well as doing some exercise during the health fair,” Izzy explained.

Other organizations that Izzy has volunteered with as a member of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses’ D.C. chapter include the National Kidney Foundation and the American Diabetes Association, doing blood pressure screenings and education.

Izzy has also volunteered with the Fairfax County Medical Reserve Corps for the past 12 years. Started in the wake of the 2001 anthrax scare, the Medical Reserve Corps brings together medical professionals and community members to respond to public health emergencies in their communities.

Izzy became a shop steward approximately nine years ago. “I was asked to take on the role because they knew that I was vocal and passionate, and I had raised concerns that people had brought to my attention,” she said.

Isolina (“Izzy”) Pistolessi has worked as a nurse at Kaiser’s Falls Church Care Center since 1999 and has served as shop steward since 2008.

As shop steward, she works to resolve issues that arise, assists nurses with concerns, and engages in member recruitment. I did new member orientation for a time,” she said. “We talked about not only the representation you get, but the benefits too—especially the free continuing education support that’s so important to nurses.” She also served as delegate in national Kaiser bargaining during previous contract negotiations.

Izzy participates in many Local 400 actions. She went to a Safeway store in Maryland prior to the most recent contract negotiations to let her sisters and brothers know Kaiser members had their backs. “I always shop at Safeway and Giant,” she said, “and I always wear my Local 400 pin. I wear it on the job at Kaiser, too, and it often leads to interesting discussions with my patients.”

She described her participation in the March 23rd Lobby Day as “a wonderful experience. I’d never done that before. The last time I’d been to the Capitol was a field trip when I was a junior in high school.”

“Lobby Day was well-organized and we made our presence known,” Izzy said. “We voiced our concerns and the representatives and senators we spoke with were glad to hear from us. It might have been a coincidence, but it was great that the day after we did this, the Republicans scrapped their bill to undo the Affordable Care Act. It was a worthwhile experience and I’d do it again.”

At the Lobby Day, Izzy spoke from first-hand experience about the patients she sees who gained health insurance for the first time thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and about immigration and her own remarkable life story. She was born in the Dominican Republic, but at age six, her family fled the country because the lives of her politically active parents were threatened during a time of upheaval. They first moved to New York and then settled in Northern Virginia, where her father worked for the Organization of American States and the World Bank.

“The point I made to members of Congress was that like my family, immigrants come to this country to seek safety and opportunity, not to steal or kill,” Izzy said. “I had tears in my eyes when I saw the news on TV about people who were being raided. I, too was once an immigrant and others should have the same opportunities.”

A parent of three adult children, with one grandchild and another on the way, Izzy lives in Fairfax City with her husband. She is deeply proud of all that she does to help her patients and people throughout the community improve their health, and equally proud of how Local 400 helps members improve their lives. She is, by any definition, extraordinary!