Kaiser pharmacy strike canceled; tentative agreement reached

Kaiser Permanente and the Guild for Professional Pharmacists reached a tentative agreement early Monday for a new 3-year contract in Northern California, averting a planned strike, the medical organization said. 

The tentative agreement give pharmacists wage increases, low copays and no further takeaways, generous retirement benefits and bonus opportunities. Kaiser was not specific with any of these terms and the pharmacist union did not issue a statement on the agreement. 

Kaiser said its pharmacies would be up and running on Monday. 

This agreement comes on the heels of Saturday’s tentative agreement between Kaiser Permanente and the Alliance of Health Care Unions, affecting nearly 50,000 employees. 

Most of those employees are in Southern California, and they had threatened to walk off the job to protest understaffing and wage cuts for new hires.

Agreement on the four-year contract includes annual wage increases, while maintaining health benefits for employees, and new staffing language to continue to protect employees and patients, the statement said.

"This agreement will mean patients will continue to receive the best care, and Alliance members will have the best jobs," said Hal Ruddick, executive director of the alliance. "This contract protects our patients, provides safe staffing, and guarantees fair wages and benefits for every Alliance member."

Kaiser said it is still bargaining in good faith with Local 39 Operating Engineers and the National Union of Healthcare Workers. At this time there is no change in the Local 39 Operating Engineers strike. 

Other unions have not yet rescinded their one-day sympathy strike notices for Thursday and Friday.  NUHW, the union that represents mental health professionals, has also announced a one-day strike for Friday, which remains in effect.