Hard Work and Determined Organizing Pay Off with Strong New National Tentative Agreement!
LOS ANGELES — After careful preparation, months of organizing in unprecedented numbers, and long days and nights in negotiating sessions stretching from May to September, we have finally secured a strong Tentative Agreement that met our key goals: a good wage increase, better benefits, new LMP and educational trust funds for our Alliance union members, and a plan to get our LMP back on track.
“This has been a long struggle, and we could not have done it without the unprecedented organizing and hard work of tens of thousands of our members,” said Alliance Executive Director Peter diCicco. “This agreement is a testament to every worker who spoke up, signed a petition, attended a rally, and stood by the Union and our Alliance!” The TA was approved by the Union CIC Sunday evening, then will go Saturday September 29 to the Bargaining Delegates Conference and if approved by that body, on to the local unions for membership votes.
WAGE INCREASE: The union team worked hard for the best possible wage increases on 10/1/18, 10/1/19, and 10/1/20. For California and the Northwest, the increases will be 3%, 2.75% with a .25 lump sum, and 3%. For Hawaii, Mid-Atlantic and Georgia, the increases will be 2.25%, 2%, and 2.25%. For Colorado, which is facing significant financial challenges, the unions were faced with strong demands for a near-total wage freeze, and instead were able to secure 2%, 1%, 1% plus an additional increase of up to 1% on 9/1/2021 depending on regional finances.
BETTER BENEFITS: In a key part of our strategy to achieve better, common benefits across regions, we significantly increased dental benefits. Diagnostic and preventive services are now 100% covered. Basic services and crowns are covered at 90%, and prosthodontics are covered at 70%. The new benefit also meets a longtime Alliance goal of having the same benefits across the Program, with a few exceptions such as the NW where KP has a dental program. Depending on your region and your plan, these higher coverages amount to anywhere from an 18-80% improvement.
Retirees in regions outside of California will get more funds in their HRA, with contributions rising from the current $2,000 per year of service, up to $2,500 per year of service. The increase kicks in on January 1, 2021.
Office visit co-pays will be $10 starting in 2020, with a reopener in 2021 for 2022 co-pays. Depending on plan and region, this is an increase for many and a decrease for some, but it is still a very good benefit, is significantly better than non-partnership unions plans, and it is now uniform across the Alliance, achieving a key goal of uniform benefit structure. For members who get health, pension, training, dental, retiree medical or other benefits through local labor-management Taft-Hartley funds, benefits are set locally and are not affected by these nationally bargained changes, and we secured the necessary management contributions for these funds
We won a new, modest retiree medical plan for KP Washington members – a region in which no employee group has any retiree medical benefits. This breakthrough gives us a base to build on in future negotiations, as partnership kicks in and performance improves with union help.
Stronger Performance Sharing Plan (PSP): In recent years union members in Southern California, Hawaii, Georgia and Mid-Atlantic regions have achieved their PSP goals in quality, service, attendance and more – only to get no payout because the region didn’t meet the financial “gate.” To protect workers from losing the PSP due to circumstances beyond their control, we agreed that even if any region doesn’t hit the financial gate, workers can still receive up to $1,000, pro-rated among the goals met.
LOCAL UNION GAINS: Some local unions decided to engage management in local bargaining over the last six months. Concurrent with National Bargaining, and with the help of our full CIC, a number of unions were able to gain language as well as economic improvements – your local union will provide you with details. Some of these final agreements were only won in the last week with the support of the full Alliance.
NEW, STRONGER LMP and EDUCATIONAL TRUST FUNDS: We reached agreement to create a new Alliance Joint Educational Trust fund – and, we won a 25% increase in funding. The trust annual funding, which provides funds for career counseling and tuition funding for upgrading skills, is rising from 0.4% of Alliance payroll to 0.5%.
We also agreed to create a new LMP Trust Fund dedicated to promoting partnership between Alliance union members and KP. Union members will continue the 9 cents-per-hour contribution we’ve been making for the past 15 years, and management agreed to a similar funding formula that will support LMP programs.
GETTING OUR PARTNERSHIP BACK ON TRACK: Management agreed that we need to get our partnership back on track after several years of backsliding. The process will begin within 30 days of ratification when a joint team will start planning and research, culminating in a meeting of Alliance unions with KP senior leadership in February.
Because basic LMP training in some areas has been watered down or even eliminated, the Partnership bargaining subgroup agreed to charge a National LMP Learning Group with developing and updating LMP curriculum. With tighter contract language with a shorter timeline, they also agreed to provide all newly hired – as well as newly-organized and newly-accreted – employees with LMP training within 90 days of hire.
The Operations subgroup reached consensus that in regions where there is not an existing framework with established timelines for issues related to flexibility, the parties will create an early engagement and timely implementation decision-making framework.
To support union members on the job, we secured a 25% increase in the number of Contract Specialists. The current formula provides one for every 1,500 members and we agreed to increase it to one per every 1,200 members.
PROTECTING OUR NO-CANCELLATION RIGHTS: Finally, after many hours of discussion, management agreed to drop the drive to eliminate no-cancellation language.
NEXT STEPS: The Bargaining Delegate Council will review these provisions, and more, in depth next Saturday, September 29 in Los Angeles. If the Council approves the Tentative Agreement, they will then refer the it to local unions for them to conduct a membership vote both on the national TA as well as local TAs if applicable.
For more information, including updates to your local agreement, watch for communications from your local union, and attend local union ratification meetings.