Negotiators representing Kaiser Permanente and Local 399 of the Service Employees International Union reported Tuesday that they have agreed upon a tentative labor agreement that could end their 3 1/2-month dispute.
The proposed contract, which must be ratified by union members, calls for a one-year pay raise of 3% for 12,000 Kaiser health care workers in Southern California, and lump sum payments the last two years of the contract. Full-time employees would receive lump sums of $600 in each of the last two years of the contract, and part-time employees would receive $300 in lieu of a raise.
Union members will vote on the contract over the next three days. It would take effect immediately upon approval.
Union leaders said they are unhappy with Kaiser's refusal to grant salary increases over the last two years of the contract, but said they were pleased that the large health maintenance organization conceded on other elements of the contract.
Jim Zellers, Local 399 president, said union negotiators would submit the contract for a vote without a recommendation. He said he would recommend a general strike if the union members vote against the proposed contract.
"We're angry with Kaiser, and we're angry at the settlement, but we're pleased with the breakthrough in which Kaiser withdrew its demand that it be given sweeping rights to impose reductions on health and sick leave benefits," he said.
Also included in the new agreement is a $100 bonus to be paid to full-time union members if the proposed contract is ratified, and a plan to put $100,000 into a special account to be used to provide workers with new skills and opportunities for advancement.