Thursday, May 10, 2012

Is Kaiser Hiding Its Latest Profit Report from Workers?

A reader sent along this tidbit, which offers an interesting window into Kaiser Permanente’s negotiations with SEIU and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions.  

Last week, Kaiser was supposed to announce its profit for the first three months of 2012. Strangely, the giant HMO has been as quiet as a mouse. No numbers. No press release. Nada.

Why? Observers speculate that SEIU and Kaiser don’t want news of Kaiser’s profits to hit the streets at the same time they’re signing a deal to slash workers’ benefits. Today, Kaiser and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions are scheduled to complete their carefully choreographed negotiations for a new National Agreement.

Apparently, the last thing that Dave Regan, John August and Kaiser’s fatcat execs want is a headline that reads: “Flush with First Quarter Profits, Kaiser and SEIU Ink Deal to Slash Workers’ Benefits.” Last year, Kaiser pocketed $921 million in profits during the first quarter.

So… instead of announcing its profits, Kaiser has populated its media web page with riveting press releases like these:
  • “Is It Possible To Walk And Work At The Same Time?”
  • The West Wing Cast Reunites in Support of Every Body Walk! Campaign”
  • “Kaiser Permanente Launches Mix It Up Online Nutrition Program to Encourage Better Eating in the Workplace”
What is “Mix It Up Online Nutrition Program?” It’s a new-fangled “team salad day” kinda thing... but over the internet. It involves a “virtual blender,” “Produce Pals,” and “friendly team competition.” Here’s what Kaiser says: 
Employees sign up online and earn points for the produce choices they make. The easy-to-remember daily selections include more than 120 possible fruits and vegetables. Your employees click on images of the foods they’ve eaten and drag them to a virtual blender. The blender calculates the percentage of each color of produce eaten and a summary page tracks all the points earned… The team challenge component taps into the power of social networks.
Mix it up? How about “Cough it up” in, cough up the news on your profits, Kaiser and SEIU-UHW!