Unions criticize Kaiser-Permanente for 'Thrive City' deal

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Kaiser Permanente is facing criticism from a union representing some of its workers for the cost to "brand" the area around Chase Center as "Thrive City."

The National Union of Healthcare Workers blasted Kaiser after The Chronicle reported the 20-year deal's price tag: $295 million.

Union Leaders believe Kaiser could spend the money on patient care rather than sponsoring the Warriors' new home.

They claim some patients wait weeks, even months for mental health appointments.

John Nelson, Vice President of Communications at Kaiser Permanente, released the following statement:

"Our engagement with the Warriors is a unique arrangement between our two organizations that are both deeply committed to improving the health of the community, and both deeply committed to supporting the Bay Area. Our 20-year engagement includes several important components, and builds on our long-standing relationship with the Warriors, and features new and innovative ways to benefit our community, and especially those in underserved populations. It is not a typical sports sponsorship agreement, and even the marketing and business components to this agreement focus on promoting health and supporting the community.

The dollar amount given to the Chronicle by NUHW represented the not-to-exceed, potential cost of a 20-year long community health and business engagement with the Warriors. It included optional components which may or may not be ultimately put in place, and does not represent the final terms of the agreement. Of that total potential, the costs associated with Thrive City would be about $2.5 million a year.

Thrive City will be a community gathering space that provides a slate of year-round health and wellness programming and local events such as walks and marathons, and Get Fit clinics, yoga sessions, farmer's markets, health screenings, flu clinics, ice skating and much more. Through this unique venue, we are investing in reaching our members and the community in places where they live, learn, work and play, while reinforcing our commitment to the communities we serve - this is part of our mission as a nonprofit organization. Thrive City is a destination for promoting total health, aligned with the needs of the community.

This builds on our joint announcement earlier this year of Generation Thrive, an innovative project that aims to lift up at-risk youth in the community. Generation Thrive, which will be headquartered out of the Warriors current practice facility in Oakland, will focus efforts in three key areas: educational equity, college and career readiness, and health and wellness. Generation Thrive will also have a satellite office located at Thrive City. We believe that everyone should have access to great health care and the information and tools they need to stay healthy. Our partnership with the Warriors is part of this work of increasing public awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

Kaiser Permanente does not receive luxury box seats as part of our agreement with the Warriors, in fact, we have a strict policy around complimentary tickets to sporting events: any game tickets provided by the Warriors must be used to promote community benefit or for narrowly defined business purposes. Any personal use of tickets by Kaiser Permanente employees must be paid for out of their own pocket.

The leadership of NUHW, the union which provided the document to the Chronicle and then issued a press release criticizing the story it helped create, is at this time actively campaigning against a proposed contract agreement, and as part of its campaign is trying to damage Kaiser Permanente's reputation. What the union didn't mention is that in our current contract offer, Kaiser Permanente is offering more money just in higher pay for our mental health employees over the next 2 years, then we might ever spend with the Warriors in 20 years."
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