SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Members of the National Union of Health Care Workers have voted to ratify a 4-year contract for mental health workers at Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, following a 10-week strike.
Workers returned to work on Wednesday after the tentative agreement between the union and Kaiser was reached on Tuesday, ending the longest strike by mental health workers in US history.
The union released details of the agreement on Friday morning, saying it meant major gains for patients and clinicians.
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– Overtime per week for therapists to work on things like patient emails and treatment plans. They hope this will reduce the high turnover rate.
– A salary increase for bilingual therapists from $1 per hour to $1.50 per hour, so that therapists can serve non-English speakers.
– A commitment from Kaiser to hire more therapists.
– A commitment from Kaiser to work with therapists on a plan to expand crisis services to nearly all of its clinics.
More than 2,000 mental health workers walked off the job Aug. 15, demanding that Kaiser address staffing shortages and improve patient access to care, after seeing an increase in demand during the pandemic.
It was estimated that around 20,000 patients would be affected by the strike.
This agreement also means a salary increase ranging from 3% to 4% per year for therapists. They had accepted Kaiser’s wage offer before the strike, but the agreement adds a year to the contract.
It is retroactive to September of last year and expires in September 2025.
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