At Kaiser Permanente, our labor unions have historically played an important role in our efforts to provide more people access to high-quality affordable care. We’re proud to be one of the most unionized health care organizations in the country.
We’ve been in active bargaining with Local 39, the union representing several hundred operating engineers in Northern California, since July and we continue to bargain in good faith to reach an agreement. The engineers represented by Local 39 are among the highest paid in their profession in the country, earning total compensation (wages, benefits and retirement) of more than $185,000/year. We offered a reasonable wage increase and no takeaways, but the union is demanding much more. The union called an open-ended strike, seeking significant wage increases. During this strike, engineering duties are handled by experienced engineers whom have been prepared for this work.
An important correction to Julie Lind’s Oct. 4 letter: Local 39 members continue to have health care benefits for themselves and their families. We’ve reassured our engineers we have not taken any action to stop paying for their benefits for the duration of the strike.
We’re extremely grateful for our front-line health care workforce, whose commitment to providing care and service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been remarkable. We look forward to having our engineers back as soon as possible to join their colleagues in compassionately providing care every day.
The letter writer is the senior vice president/area manager, Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center.