Thursday, June 19, 2014

Rank-and-File Pharmacists Deliver Overwhelming Rejection Vote to Kaiser's Execs

Check this out!

Tasty hears that the pharmacists at Kaiser’s hospitals and clinics in Southern California have overwhelmingly rejected a tentative deal for a three-year labor contract favored by Kaiser Permanente’s fatcat execs.

According to Tasty’s sources, the vote was 72% (“No”) to 28% ("Yes").

The rejection is significant because both Kaiser and the pharmacists’ union leaders were pushing pharmacists to accept the deal.

What union represents the pharmacists?

The “Guild for Professional Pharmacists” is a “non-partnership” union that’s historically been weak at the bargaining table. On May 29th, the Guild announced that it had reached a "tentative agreement" for a deal that would’ve cemented in place a variety of deep cuts to pharmacists’ benefits.

SEIU-UHW and the other "partnership" unions have already accepted one of these cuts (a cut to retiree health benefits). And Dave Regan has reportedly promised to push through the remaining cuts (pension and health benefits) during the Coalition for Kaiser Permanente Union’s next round of bargaining.

Meanwhile, the 23,000 members of NUHW and the CNA are actively fighting these same cuts… by, for example, waging several successful statewide strikes during which SEIU-UHW officials worked hand-in-hand with Kaiser’s execs to try to defeat the strikes.

That's what makes the pharmacists’ vote so interesting. 

Plus, observers say the “no” vote is especially
Kaiser's Ed Ellison
surprising because the Guild's membership has historically been very disengaged and easily swayed by Kaiser.

In recent days, Kaiser's execs made a special push to get pharmacists to vote "yes" on the deal. On June 10th, Kaiser’s Ben Chu (President of Kaiser's Southern California Region) and Ed Ellison (CEO of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group) sent out personalized letters to each and every Guild member that said the following:
…we thank you for your flexibility and responsiveness to help continue meeting the care needs of our members and patients throughout this period. Because of your role as an integral member of our care delivery team, we believe the entire region was very pleased when it was learned that Kaiser Permanente and the Guild for Professional Pharmacists had reached a tentative labor agreement… We hope that you and other Guild-represented Kaiser Permanente pharmacist ratify this offer. Its acceptance will ensure our organization's ability to sustainably meet our mission to provide our members and patients with high-quality, affordable healthcare, as well as make us a best place to work in healthcare.
Kaiser's request for "flexibility" is especially outrageous given that Kaiser is pocketing mega-wads of cash -- it made an unprecedented $1.1 billion in profits during the first three months of 2014 alone. 

Now... both Kaiser's execs and the Guild's leaders have pie in the face as pharmacists celebrate their rank-and-file rebellion. 

What's next? Stay tuned.