At the beginning, some people laughed at this partnership. It was a wild idea—the concept of having a venue where the workers would have a voice was unique. How are we going to make that happen? I look at it as a marriage. We liked each other. We started dating. We courted a bit. Then we got engaged, and now we’re married. We went through some not-easy times. Labor had to look at our relationship with management. Management had to look at its relationship with labor. You have to work at a marriage every day. A lot of the success of a marriage has to do with communication and how you engage with your partner. There are hard conversations that have to happen, and you’ve got to have the ability to trust your partner and be open and receptive to ideas. I have non-Kaiser Permanente clients in the adversarial world, so I juggle. But when I go from adversarial to partnership, it’s great. I’m high on communication and engagement—and working together, in partnership.
Denice Washington, business representative and labor co-lead to the Northern California LMP Steering Committee, OPEIU Local 29 (Northern California)