After almost seven years of fighting to address the way that "traveler" nurses are used to fill gaps in RN coverage, we have won a major victory limiting the way that Kaiser Permanente can use these non-union workers.
The issue was first resolved in 2013 when negotiations with a then executive at KP resulted in an agreement to limit the uses of travelers, leading to a formal agreement in 2014. This agreement was made as an "Issue Resolution" process as a part of the Labor-Management Process (LMP), which could have served as a great example of the partnership in action. Yet after that executive left KP the organization did not uphold the earlier decision. Union leaders including Misty Richards and Benjamin Dawson were instrumental in confronting this issue, resulting in an agreement called "1.L.2." A panelwas created at the national level of three members of management and three union representatives to address this issue as an alternative to arbitration. A binding rule came out of this arrangement that agreed the 2014 decision that was made was valid and must be upheld.
Our union contract is intended to keep the labor done in our hospitals and clinics owned by the bargaining unit, yet travelers essentially allow non-union workers to do what should be union work. This new "1.L.2" decision helps to mitigate that by putting some key restrictions on the use of travelers. A traveler must be married to a specific position that is both open and posted. This limits how travelers will be used to fill work gaps and prevents management from using travelers instead of just hiring union positions. This will help to stop the creep of work out of our bargaining unit and will ensure that travelers will only be used to fill positions created by an acute absence that could not be filled by the float pool.
This is an incredible victory to keep our union members front and center in Kaiser's care model, and to prevent management from unilaterally determining how staffing should be applied. If this is a real partnership then that means we need a say in how this process goes and the integrity of our union must be paramount.