Judge: Kaiser Withheld Wages, Benefits From Workers Who Left SEIU
An administrative law judge recently ruled that Kaiser Permanente violated federal labor regulations by withholding scheduled raises and other benefits from 2,300 workers in Southern California who voted to leave the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West earlier this year, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
Prior to the union vote, the 2,300 workers were SEIU-UHW members and covered by a national agreement between Kaiser and a coalition of labor unions.
In January 2010, the 2,300 employees voted to leave SEIU-UHW and join a rival upstart union, the National Union of Healthcare Workers. NUHW and Kaiser officials have continued contract negotiations since the vote, but have yet to reach a deal.
Although workers covered under the coalition agreement received 2% pay raises in April, Kaiser did not extend the raises to the 2,300 employees who voted to join NUHW. In addition, the NUHW workers lost their tuition reimbursement benefits and paid time off for shop-steward training.
In his ruling, Judge William Schmidt stated that the coalition agreement continued to cover the 2,300 NUHW workers while they had yet to ratify a new contract with Kaiser.
Schmidt ordered Kaiser to:
- Enact the April raise and restore benefits for the NUHW employees within 14 days;
- Examine payroll records to determine the amount of back pay owed to the NUHW workers;
- Post notices about its actions; and
- Report compliance within 21 days.
Kaiser, SEIU-UHW Response
On Wednesday, Kaiser officials said they are reviewing the judge's order and declined to comment on the matter.A spokesperson for SEIU-UHW said it is unclear whether Kaiser will appeal the ruling (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 12/15). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.