Kaiser Asks Federal Mediator To Intervene in Contract Talks With CNA
Kaiser Permanente has requested that a federal mediator intervene in contract negotiations with the California Nurses Association after meetings between the two groups were canceled for three weeks, the Sacramento Business Journal reports (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 8/8).
Last month, CNA was slated to begin negotiations on new four-year contracts for Kaiser Permanente nurses in Northern California. The organization is preparing to fight expected cuts to wages, pensions or other benefits.
In addition, nurses have outlined several alleged issues at Kaiser facilities, such as:
- Closure of cardiology and pediatric units reducing access to care for some patients;
- Patients being discharged from emergency departments and intensive care units when they should have been admitted; and
- Understaffing at nursing call centers.
Kaiser has said the allegations about reduced access to care and understaffing are misleading or unfounded (California Healthline, 7/14).
Details of Mediator Request
The request for a mediator comes after several disagreements on a meeting location and other issues postponed negotiations that were set for July 24, July 31 and Aug. 7.
CNA Co-President Zenei Cortez said that Kaiser has tried to control how negotiations will proceed and has not been open to compromise or meeting in a neutral location. Officials with the union say Kaiser also has not been receptive to a request that nurses be allowed to observe the negotiations.
However, Kaiser Senior Vice President for Human Resources Gay Westfall said that CNA rallied at the provider's national headquarters on July 31 rather than attending a planned negotiation meeting. Westfall said, "We are concerned about this disruptive behavior at the outset of what are important negotiations for our nurses and the organization."
Westfall said that Kaiser had "asked a federal mediator to assist us in coming to agreement [in] these simple yet important principles before negotiations begin."
According to the Business Journal, requesting a mediator "this early in the game" is a "highly unusual move" (Sacramento Business Journal, 8/8).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.