'Major Gains': Kaiser Permanente mental health workers vote to ratify new contract, details released

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Friday, October 21, 2022
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Union members have voted to ratify a 4-year contract for Kaiser Permanente mental health care workers in NorCal following a 10-week strike, saying it means major gains for patients and clinicians.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers have voted to ratify a 4-year contract for Kaiser Permanente mental health care workers in Northern California, following a 10-week strike.

Workers returned to work on Wednesday after the tentative agreement between the union and Kaiser was reached Tuesday, ending the longest mental healthcare workers strike in US history.

The union released details of the agreement Friday morning, saying it means major gains for patients and clinicians.

RELATED: Kaiser mental health workers return after tentative agreement reached, ending strike in NorCal

Among the highlights are:

- Extra hours per week for therapists to work on things like patient emails and treatment plans. They're hoping this will decrease the high turnover rate.

- A pay increase for bilingual therapists from $1 per hour to $1.50 per hour, so therapists can serve non-English speakers.

- A commitment by Kaiser to hire more therapists.

- A commitment by Kaiser to work with therapists on a plan to expand crisis services to nearly all of its clinics.

More than 2,000 mental health workers walked off the job on August 15th, demanding Kaiser address staffing shortages and more patient access to care, after seeing a surge in demand during the pandemic.

It was estimated some 20,000 patients would be affected by the strike.

This agreement also means a wage increase ranging from 3% to 4% a year for therapists. They had agreed to Kaiser's wage proposal before the strike, but the agreement adds a year to the contract.

It's retroactive to September of last year and expires in September 2025.

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