OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- SEIU and unions covering covering 85,000 workers reached an agreement today with Kaiser Permanente to pay staff a "Heroes Bonus" in recognition of the intense and dangerous work employees have performed while taking care of COVID-19 patients during the pandemic.
Under the agreement negotiated between workers and the company, Kaiser also will extend COVID-19 paid leave benefits through March 31, 2021 for workers who contract the virus or are exposed and must isolate themselves, and continue child care grants to help defray employee costs through April 3, 2021.
The bonus and extended COVID-19 benefits will cover union members in the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Workers (CKPU), which comprises unions at Kaiser facilities in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and Washington State. Members include registered nurses, respiratory therapists, nursing assistants, lab and pharmacy workers, environmental services employees, clerks, dietary workers and other essential job titles.
"This has been a grueling year for everyone, but especially those of us who, for the past 10 months, have put our health on the line every day to make sure COVID-19 patients get the best possible care," said Carlene Gonzalez, a licensed practical nurse at Kaiser Tysons Corner Medical Center in Virginia and a member of Local 2 of the Office and Professional Employees International Union. "We fought hard for the bonus and extended benefits to make sure our dedication to our patients is recognized, and we appreciate that Kaiser, by entering this agreement, has done the right thing for the right reasons. It will help ease some of the strain Kaiser employees and our families have been under and will continue to be under for the foreseeable future."
Kaiser pays a bonus annually to workers as part of its Performance Sharing Program (PSP). In normal years, the PSP is paid only if employees in a Kaiser facility meet certain performance goals. This year, all 85,000 workers will receive the full PSP bonus in recognition of their selfless work during the pandemic. The CKPU and Kaiser are also working together on vaccinating and testing workers for the coronavirus.
"We are proud of the essential role we have played in battling the coronavirus – an effort that has seen many of us contract the virus and some of our co-workers make the ultimate sacrifice with their lives," said Georgette Bradford, an ultrasound technologist at Kaiser in Sacramento, CA. "This agreement will give us some relief at a time we need it the most."
Under the agreement:
Kaiser employees who work 32 hours a week or more in a KP facility will be eligible for a grant of $200 per week to pay for child care for children 14 or younger (and disabled, dependent children). It can be used to pay for their own caregiver (as long as they are not a spouse or domestic partner) or to find child care outside of the home.
Employees working at a Kaiser facility more than 20 hours a week (including per-diem employees) who test positive for COVID-19 will receive up to 80 hours of administrative leave. This is above and beyond regularly accrued leave. Employees who are sent home from Kaiser and are awaiting a test result or in isolation will also be covered.