Kaiser Therapists Win a Strong New Contract

March 2014

PTOT_VoiceImage_MarchApril2014Physical, Occupational and Recreation Therapists who serve patients at Kaiser Permanente facilities throughout Southern California have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract with Kaiser. It includes staffing protections, secured benefits and limits on patient loads to ensure that every patient gets the treatment they need from a Therapist.

Physical Therapist Lorraine Panganiban, who works at Kaiser Pasadena and served on the negotiating team, explained. “There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to devote the time needed to a particular patient, because of a pile-up of appointments. Every patient deserves our undivided attention. This contract ensures they’ll get it.”

“The patients we serve as UNAC/UHCP health care professionals don’t always understand the benefits of getting care from unionized caregivers,” says Ken Deitz, RN, UNAC/UHCP President. “For the Kaiser Therapists, as for all UNAC/UHCP members, having a union protects us when we speak up for our patients against the competing pressures of management’s bottom line. Our union protects our own bottom line: delivering the best possible care to our patients.”

“Joining UNAC/UHCP not only means that we now have a voice in patient care decisions, but it means that we’ve been able to secure our professional status and our pensions,” said Andrea Moeller, OT at Kaiser Sunset. Most non-union workers at Kaiser have seen their retirement benefits, particularly their pensions, frozen, reduced or eliminated. This was a strong motivator for the Therapists to join UNAC/UHCP, and an important issue for them during negotiations. “So many workers are seeing the idea of a dignified retirement stripped from the American Dream,” said Moeller. “If some of us can hold onto that idea, then we can work to win it back for everyone.”

With contract ratification, the Kaiser Therapists are the newest UNAC/UHCP affiliate, and move to drafting their constitution and electing officers.