For Cindy O’Brien, a 25-year Nurse Practitioner at Kaiser Permanent’s Largo, Md., center, Local 400 membership helped save her job and strengthen the quality of patient care she is so proud to provide.

Cindy O'Brien. Photo by Bill Burke.

Back in 2007, Kaiser announced its intention to remove Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants from the primary care unit, a move that directly threatened O’Brien’s calling. O’Brien and her fellow health professionals argued that this change would undermine the world-class care Kaiser was known for. Thanks to their union contract, which established Kaiser’s Labor Management Partnership — a national model for labor-management cooperation — they were able to make their case persuasively. The result was an agreement maintaining these positions in the Mid-Atlantic region — a great victory that came about through collaboration rather than confrontation.

As a Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner, O’Brien is has an advanced degree and board certification enabling her to take nursing to another level by diagnosing and treating patients, while maintaining the holistic care approach that Kaiser built its national reputation on.

Last year, O’Brien attended the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions  delegates conference in California, where unions representing Kaiser health professionals come together from across the country  to share issues, brainstorm solutions and learn about labor relations in the workplace.

“This conference brought a new awareness of not only my rights professionally in the workplace but the solidarity of the labor movement across all industries,” said O’Brien. “When I’m reading or watching the news and hearing about the challenges many hard working people are facing throughout the country I look at it with a new pair of eyes now.”