Kaiser Permanente and the unions representing thousands of healthcare workers have reached a tentative deal that could end the labor dispute that resulted in a three-day strike last week.

“The frontline healthcare workers of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions are excited to have reached a tentative agreement with Kaiser Permanente,” the union posted on social media. “We are thankful for the instrumental support of Acting U.S. Labor Secretary Julie Su.”

Roughly 75,000 workers represented by the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions walked off the job from Wednesday through Friday last week in what the union billed as the largest healthcare strike of its kind in U.S. history. Workers walked picket lines across California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

The union coalition has been pushing for higher wages commensurate with inflation, increased staffing, and working conditions. The unions have repeatedly accused Kaiser of negotiating in bad faith, which Kaiser denied.

“At issue, health care workers say, are a series of unfair labor practices related to bargaining in bad faith, along with simmering staff concerns related to unsafe staffing levels that can lead to dangerously long wait times, mistaken diagnosis, and neglect,” according to an earlier union statement.

“After years of the COVID pandemic and chronic understaffing, Kaiser healthcare workers are calling on management to provide safe staffing levels.”

The union has also accused Kaiser of cutting employee performance bonuses, failing to protect employees against subcontracting, and offering wages that fail to keep pace with inflation — all issues that Kaiser has refuted.

“Frontline healthcare workers are awaiting a meaningful response from Kaiser executives regarding some of our key priorities, including safe staffing, outsourcing protections for incumbent healthcare workers, and fair wages to reduce turnover,” Caroline Lucas of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions said in a statement.

Kaiser officials said recent bargaining sessions did result in a “number of tentative agreements,” and they insisted the health care system’s latest offers address the union’s demands. Kaiser officials said the company is offering:

   — “across-the-board” wage increases in all markets over four years;

   — an improved Performance Sharing Plan with the potential for payouts

of up to $3,750;

   — minimum wages of $23 an hour in California and $21 an hour in other

markets; and

   — renewal of tuition assistance and training programs.

“We remain committed to reaching a new agreement that continues to provide our employees with market-leading wages, excellent benefits, generous retirement income plans, and valuable professional development opportunities,” according to Kaiser.

The company also affirmed its commitment to hiring, confirming that it has already reached a goal of hiring 10,000 new union-represented employees before the end of the year.

“In total over the past two years, Kaiser Permanente has hired more than 50,000 people to join our teams,” according to the company.

Last week, Kaiser officials issued a statement saying rising inflation has led to a “massive surge” in expenses and has made it tough for the company to balance taking care of its employees with being affordable to patients.

“As noted in a recent report from the American Hospital Association, rising inflation has led to health care experiencing a `massive surge’ in expenses driven by drugs and supplies, equipment shortages, staffing costs, and supply chain disruptions,” Kaiser officials said.

“At the same time, in the wake of the pandemic, demand for care has increased dramatically, as people come in for care that has been delayed. Kaiser Permanente is not immune to these inflationary pressures.”

Among the workers who were involved in the strike were licensed vocational nurses, emergency department technicians, radiology technicians, ultrasound sonographers, teleservice representatives, respiratory therapists, X-ray technicians, certified nursing assistants, dietary services, behavioral health workers, surgical technicians, pharmacy technicians, transporters, home health aides, phlebotomists, and medical assistants, union officials said.

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