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Kaiser Permanente union pharmacists plan weeklong strike Monday

Kaiser Permanente has notified its patients to fill any needed prescriptions ahead of a weeklong strike by unionized pharmacists planned to begin Nov. 15.

Kaiser Permanente and the Sacramento-based Guild for Professional Pharmacists, which represents Kaiser Permanente pharmacists in Northern California, have been in contract negotiations since July 31, when the pharmacists’ contract ended, according to the union.

Kaiser received a 10-day notice of the strike, as is required by federal law, for what the union alleges are unfair labor practices. The notice of the impending strike was issued Saturday, according to both parties.

In a Tuesday statement to the Business Journal, Kaiser said its proposal includes wage increases over four years, including a 3% increase in the first year, and a 2% increase plus 2% bonus each of the following years.

The health care system added there is a 120% increase in potential incentive payouts, no changes to the pharmacists’ “excellent medical benefits,” and enhancements to their retirement contributions.

“In fact, the cash value of this contract is the richest contract offered to guild members by Kaiser Permanente in the past decade,” Kaiser stated. “Over the life of the 4-year agreement, the average cash value of KP’s offer is more than $18,000 per year for full-time Guild-represented-employees.”

The guild, in a Tuesday statement to the Business Journal, alleges Kaiser refused to arbitrate contract grievances, took actions to end negotiations prematurely, including engaging directly with the unionized pharmacists, and otherwise interfered with its right and ability to represent its members.

The guild did not provide specifics in its statement: “These actions forced the guild to file multiple unfair labor practice charges against Kaiser, which are currently pending at the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board).”

Both parties stated they are committed to trying to reach an agreement and avert the strike.

“Should a strike occur, we will communicate information and guidance to our members about how to access pharmacy services during that time,” according to Kaiser’s statement. “In this interim period, we are encouraging members to plan ahead and pick up prescription refills they may need during the strike or order refills online or by phone to be delivered by mail at no extra charge. Additional information is available at kp.org.”

The Guild for Professional Pharmacists, founded in 1978, states it represents more than 2,500 employee pharmacists at Kaiser Northern California, Kaiser Northwest (Oregon-Washington), and Southern California CVS.

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