Press Release: Kaiser Physical and Occupational Therapists Join UNAC/UHCP

January 2014

CONTACT: Christy McConville

Physical, Occupational and Recreation Therapists Approve Quality Care Improvements in Contract with Kaiser Permanente

Physical, Occupational and Recreation Therapists who serve patients at dozens of Kaiser Permanente facilities scattered throughout Southern California voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract with Kaiser that includes staffing protections, secured benefits and limits on patient loads to ensure that every patient gets the treatment they need from a Therapist in order to optimize patient care.

“The reason we do this work is because we are passionate about caring for people,” said Lorraine Panganiban, PT from Kaiser Pasadena. “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.”

“Patients don’t always understand the benefits of getting care from unionized health care professionals,” said Ken Deitz, RN and UNAC/UHCP President. “The most important thing that having a union does for health care professionals like the Kaiser Therapists is that it protects them when they speak up for their patients against the competing pressures of management’s bottom line. For us, the bottom line is always delivering the best care possible care to our patients.”

With this contract, the Kaiser Therapists will become an affiliate of United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals, which represents the vast majority of Kaiser RNs in Southern California, as well as Optometrists, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Certified Nurse Midwives and other Kaiser health care professionals. UNAC/UHCP was instrumental in the formation of Kaiser Permanente’s groundbreaking Labor-Management Partnership (LMP), and is at the forefront of the almost 100,000 member strong Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions.

“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. “So many workers are seeing the idea of a dignified retirement stripped from the American Dream. If some of us can hold onto that idea, then we can work to win it back for everyone.”

UNAC/UHCP is the largest nurses’ union in Southern California representing over 23,000 Registered Nurses and other health care professionals, including Optometrists; Pharmacists; Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapists; Nurse Midwives; Social Workers; Clinical Lab Scientists; Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners. UNAC/UHCP is affiliated with the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO.