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Kaiser, Unions Agree on Contract

From Associated Press

Kaiser Permanente and its unionized workers announced a five-year contract Thursday covering 82,000 employees, including workers in California.

The HMO and union officials said the pact would cover nearly all Kaiser employees -- except doctors -- at more than 400 facilities in eight states and Washington, D.C. It includes annual pay raises, including as much as 5% in the first year, and more money for benefits and training.

The contract is expected to take effect Saturday, once all union votes are counted. Union officials said it probably would be the second consecutive agreement to receive roughly 90% support from members who voted.

The deal covers nurses, lab technicians, pharmacists, janitors and cafeteria workers, among other positions.

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Oakland-based Kaiser is a nonprofit health maintenance organization that administers health plans and operates 30 medical centers, employing 11,000 physicians. It has 8.3 million members.

Kaiser and the 29 unions involved formed a partnership in 1997 to improve communication, and both sides said there was little hostility in the negotiations.

“It’s the best contract we’ve negotiated with any health system employer, anywhere,” said Sal Rosselli, president of Service Employees International Union, United Healthcare Workers-West. It includes “great wages, great benefits, and actually increased pension benefits.”

The agreement applies to Kaiser employees in California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Maryland, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia and Washington.

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