Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Partnership Union Describes Kaiser's Plan for Cuts to Benefits

Here's a revealing development that emerged after the partnership unions' first bargaining session with Kaiser Permanente on March 6-8.

SEIU-UHW and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions have not disclosed any details about the benefit cuts that Kaiser wants from their members. However, one of the partnership unions -- the United Nurses Association of California (UNAC) -- has released a detailed description of the cuts they expect Kaiser to put on the bargaining table.

Check out eight pages of leaflets that UNAC distributed to its members last week. UNAC, which is affiliated with AFSCME, represents 14,000 RNs in many of Kaiser's Southern California hospitals. (NUHW represents the RNs at Kaiser's largest SoCal hospital, and the California Nurses Association represents Kaiser RNs in Northern California.)

What's UNAC telling its members?  "We expect Kaiser to seek a new 'Flex' benefits system in our bargaining sessions." Under this  system, Kaiser would no longer cover the monthly health insurance premiums for part-time workers and their families. For example, employees who work 20 to 31 hours per week would have to pay 20-40% of their monthly premiums.

The "Flex" benefits system would also force workers to pay higher co-pays, new co-pays and higher out-of-pocket maximums. (Details on particular co-pays are described in the leaflets.)

UNAC also expects Kaiser to propose sharp cuts to workers' retiree health insurance. UNAC's leaflets include quotes from its rank-and-file leaders about Kaiser's expected proposals.

Dave Regan and John August are sitting in the bargaining sessions as UNAC's officials. So why are Regan and August keeping their members in the dark about Kaiser's plan for benefit cuts? Is this what you call "21st century unionism?"

Here are UNAC's leaflets (you can scroll through the eight pages by using the scroll bar on the right or the arrows in the bottom right-hand corner):

UNAC Leaflets on Coalition Bargaining with Kaiser Permanente 3-15-12