Complaint says Kaiser Permanente didn’t bargain in good faith

The federal agency alleges the healthcare provider tied the negotiations to a ban on picketing.

EVERETT — The National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint alleging that Kaiser Permanente, a non-profit healthcare provider, “failed and refused to bargain in good faith” with a coalition of unions that represent 85,000 health care workers in seven states, including 3,505 workers in Washington and 258 in Everett.

The complaint also alleges that Kaiser Permanente wrongly tied the collective bargaining “negotiations to a ban on political activity,” including picketing the company.

“The workers who have helped make this company so successful over the years now feel that their concerns are validated,” Dave Regan, president of the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, said in a coalition announcement. “No longer can Kaiser Permanente claim it was trying to do right by its employees and patients by holding up bargaining and trying to stop workers from speaking out.”

In reponse, John Nelson, Kaiser’s vice president of communications, called the announcement “misleading and inaccurate.”

The coalition said “the federal government recently indicted healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente for refusing to negotiate a contract.”

Said Nelson, “There has been no indictment and no decision. The NLRB is following its routine process to set an evidentiary hearing, as already announced in December. Please see our existing statement.”

The NLRB has set a hearing to begin March 19 in Oakland, California. Kaiser is based in Oakland.

According to the coalition, Kaiser employees filed a complaint with the NLRB in May 2018 alleging that “the company repeatedly canceled contract negotiations with the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which comprises 11 labor unions in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.”

Kaiser acquired Group Health in February 2017.

The healthcare provider operates 34 medical offices and other outpatient facilities in 19 cities in Washington, including Everett. It plans to open a new medical clinic in Smokey Point in early 2020.

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods.

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