Am I Next? Kaiser Permanente Layoffs and Outsourcing

With all of the disruption in healthcare, including revenue shortfalls due to changing patient loads as patients deal with insurance with high deductibles, competitively shop for outpatient service, reduced contracting rates, it would be natural to assume that most profit and non-profit healthcare organizations would engage in some form of restructuring to cut costs and prepare for an uncertain future. 

According to SEIU - United Healthcare Workers West, one of Kaiser Permanente’s major unions

"The corporation also plans to outsource 245 pharmacy warehouse jobs in Oakland, Livermore, and Downey, and lay off 700 employees at three call centers in Los Angeles, Baldwin Park, and Woodland Hills and move the jobs to other areas of the state where workers will earn $2 per hour less."

"More than 55,000 Kaiser Permanente employees in California are members of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW). Their contract with Kaiser Permanente expires Sept. 30, 2018."

"Thousands of healthcare workers will protest across California at 32 hospitals owned by Kaiser Permanente between Feb. 14 and March 9 because of the corporation’s plans that undermine patients and the people who care for them."

The union does not mention that current SWIU-UHW members will be transitioning to the United Steelworkers of America -- another union. Or that it is probable that Kaiser will outsource its pharmacy operations to a non-union contractor. 

Of course, Kaiser does not dispute that future changes will be made, but does disputes the union’s numbers regarding the layoffs and has not announced a restructuring plan. 

"SEIU-UHW’s decision to stage picketing and make misleading and inaccurate statements about Kaiser Permanente is uncalled for and counterproductive. If the union’s leadership is truly interested in working constructively and as a partner, as they claim, they should reconsider this path."

Kaiser does not appear to operate like a union -- depleting its reserves and dealing with a major unfunded pension liability. Yet the union cannot resist attacking Kaiser for maintaining prudent reserves. 

"Kaiser Permanente’s profits increased 60 percent from 2016 to 2017 and have $32 billion in reserves yet is seeking cuts that undermine patient care. Kaiser has said it wants to reduce wage rates by 20 percent in the Central Valley and 10 percent in the Sacramento area."

It also appears that the union is staging a preemptive attack on another major healthcare provider; knowing that it will be eliminating duplicative jobs in an upcoming merger.

And, Kaiser is not the only SEIU target as it preemptively deals with the elimination of redundancies in another major healthcare merger ...

Meanwhile, thousands of Dignity Health caregivers are planning a separate series of 27 protests statewide between Feb. 20 and March 7 to demand the corporation operate in the interests of patients, healthcare workers, and communities as it becomes a $28 billion corporation in a merger with Catholic Health Initiatives. Fifteen thousand Dignity Health employees are members of SEIU-UHW, and their contract expires April 1, 2018.

Are you asking yourself, Am I Next?