Best Place to Work

Partnership Beats the Odds

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Kaiser Permanente and Coalition of KP Unions celebrate 20 years of partnership

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Forty percent of U.S. marriages end in divorce after an average of eight years. Most business partnerships fail to meet expectations. And most campaigns end when they achieve their goals or the world moves on.

But the Labor Management Partnership between Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions has beaten the odds: October 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the partnership’s founding, making it by far the largest, longest-running and most sweeping such partnership in the country.

We’ve accomplished a lot together. And in a world of change, sustaining a healthy long-term relationship is an achievement in itself. A key to our success has been the willingess to honestly reflect on our successes, failures, and opportunities to improve. 

By working in partnership, says Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard Tyson, “We have tapped into the potential of smart people all over the organization coming here every single day trying to figure out, ‘How do I improve quality, how do I improve service, how do I improve affordability?’ That’s an incredible competitive advantage for the organization.”

Marking a milestone

This fall Kaiser Permanente and the union coalition will be celebrating those achievements with special events and employee outreach. It won’t be all cake and balloons, however. LMP regional councils, unit-based team sponsors and co-leads, and others will host reflection sessions where workers, managers and physicians can share their experiences, pain points and suggestions for the future of partnership. Participants will consider three questions:

  • What is different since we created partnership? (Or, what do you see as the top accomplishments of partnership?)
  • What are the greatest challenges it faces today?
  • How might we address those challenges, to strengthen partnership now and in the future?

Getting results

Partnership is not easy, and the parties don’t always agree on things. So what’s kept it going?

“It’s nice if we can all get along,” says Tyson. “But most important, we’re here to get results.” Here are some of the results achieved in partnership:

  • Performance improvement: More than 50,000 team-led improvement projects since 2007, with measurable gains in quality, service, the work environment—and cost savings exceeding $148 million in 2016.
  • Best place to work: Industry-leading wages and benefits, a voice in decision making, and an Employment and Income Security Agreement providing retraining and redeployment for displaced workers.
  • Joint marketing: Strategic engagement brought strong gains in KP membership, union coalition membership, and more than $108 million in revenue for Kaiser Permanente in 2016.
  • Job training and career advancement: More than 300,000 professional, academic and skill-enhancement courses taken by 104,000 coalition-represented employees since 2007.
  • Systems collaboration: Joint implemention of multiple complex programs and systems, including KP HealthConnect, Claims Connect, ICD-10 and call center reorganization.

Lessons for success

All of the above have garnered attention from business, union and academic leaders over the years.

“The Labor Management Partnership is a shining example of how you bring labor and management together to produce results,” said Liz Shuler, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO. “What I love about this model is the notion that, no matter where you work in the system, you have a place at the table and your voice is heard.”

Working in partnership also holds lessons that apply outside of work—including lessons that might have saved some of those failed marriages.

“If you are going to be a good partner and have a successful relationship, with a partner, kids, friends,” says Michael Belmont, a former KP administrator now working for the consulting firm that helped the LMP get started, “you have to have your partner’s needs in mind as well as your own.”

To learn more about LMP anniversary activities, visit the 20th Anniversary How-to Guide.

TOOLS

Anniversary Trivia Quiz

Download the PowerPoint version:
PPT, 24 slides (35 Mb)

Also available: 
PDF, 8.5" x 11", 24 pages (use download button at right)

Intended audience:
Frontline workers, managers and physicians 

Best used:
Share this fun LMP trivia quiz at your next LMP Council meeting or UBT fair and help people appreciate the history and accomplishments of the Labor Management Partnership. 
 

See the whole toolkit:
How-To Guide: Celebrate LMP's 20th Anniversary

TOOLS

Anniversary Fast Facts (customized by region)

Format:
PDF

Size:
8.5" x 11" 

Intended audience:
Frontline workers, managers and physicians 

Best used:
Use these fast facts alone or in your own materials, or as a sidebar with the regional leadership message template and newsletter article template. 

See the whole toolkit:
How-To Guide: Celebrate LMP's 20th Anniversary

Engaged Teams Build Communities

Deck: 
Three new ways to get involved

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Health care workers, their managers and physicians care for others every day. And it doesn’t stop at the doors of our facilities.

On Martin Luther King Day this past January, 5,600 Kaiser Permanente employee volunteers took a “day on” to refurbish schools, staff food kitchens and work in more than 150 other projects in the communities we serve.

Helping others—and ourselves

More than 14,000 KP employees signed up for the Pound for Pound Challenge in the first three months of 2017. The program donated a pound of food to local food banks for every pound that participants lost in those months. The result: 72,893 pounds of food donated to our communities—enough to provide more than 60,000 meals.

Teams and regions have put their own stamp on this campaign. For example, Colorado organized a healthy competition for collective weight loss. Other regions reported dramatic, sustained changes in participants’ eating habits and fitness.

Teams step up

Unit-based teams across KP are conducting small tests of change—including social change—by going into the community to address hunger, poverty and other obstacles to total health. Team projects include:

  • In South Sacramento (Northern California), about 100 KP workers from 22 UBTs helped local kids by building and donating bicycles to needy kids in the community—and building teamwork in the process.  
  • KP workers represented by Steelworkers Local 7600 in Fontana (Southern California) helped kick off monthly sponsored food giveaways for needy families in their service area.
  • Baseline Medical Offices’ Primary Care UBT in Colorado assembled Whole Foods Market meals for needy KP members and delivered them in person—a gesture that team members said meant as much to the families as the meals themselves.
  • A call center team in the Northwest region donated more than 400 needed items and $195 in cash to a local camp for children who have or are affected by AIDS.

Commitment to communities

Frontline engagement furthers the social mission of both Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which is why the 2015 National Agreement provided for employees and their unions to work with KP to build strong and healthy communities.

“I was thankful to the team for participating,” says Fernando Gomez, a quality assurance specialist and SEIU-UHW member whose records scanning team participated in the Build a Bike program in South Sacramento. “It was fun and took a lot of teamwork.”

Adds Scan Center Supervisor Rozina Ali, “It was a very positive, moving reminder that we are here to help people. Afterward, a lot of us volunteered to do more.”

TOOLS

Puzzles and Games Answers (Q2/Q3-2017 Hank)

Format:
PDF

Size:
8.5" x 11" 

Intended audience:
Frontline employees, managers and physicians

Best used:
Find out the answers to the puzzles and games in the Q2/Q3-2017 issue of Hank

TOOLS

Certificate of Appreciation—Version 2

Format:
Word document (color and black and white)

Size:
One 8.5" x 11" page

Intended audience:
UBT co-leads and sponsors

Best used:
Customize this certificate to reward and recognize individuals and teams who've improved performance. Celebrating and recognizing achievement builds morale and inspires your team.

Videos

A Model for Today

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(2:36)

October marks the  20th anniversary of our Labor Management Partnership—the largest and longest-running partnership of its kind. It is "a shining example—and the best example—of how you bring labor and management together to produce results," says Liz Shuler, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO.

Here's why.

TOOLS

Puzzles and Games Answers (Q1-2017 Hank)

Format:
PDF

Size:
8.5" x 11" 

Intended audience:
Frontline employees, managers and physicians

Best used:
Find out the answers to the puzzles and games in the Q1-2017 issue of Hank

Meet Your National Agreement: Settle Disputes With Issue Resolution

Deck: 
Do people working in partnership always agree? People don’t.

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Kaiser Permanente and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions resolve most differences involving our Labor Management Partnership through interest-based problem solving or interest-based bargaining. 

But when the process bogs down, the 2015 National Agreement provides a way for managers, physicians, union leaders and frontline workers represented by a coalition union to move it forward: issue resolution. 

Section 1 of the National Agreement covers a number of topics: how the partnership operates, unit-based teams, and such programs as Total Health and Workplace Safety. The most common disputes encountered are covered by this section. A new issue resolution process, one of three related provisions in the agreement, covers such disputes.

The process starts at the level at which an issue arises; so, for example: 

  • When disagreements arise at the facility level, the parties directly involved meet and use interest-based problem solving to try to resolve the issue themselves.
  • If they cannot do that within 30 days, the issue may be referred to the local LMP Council.
  • If there’s still no resolution, the next step is the Regional Council, and then national LMP leadership. Each body has 30 days to resolve the issue, using interest-based problem solving.
  • If no solution can be reached, the question may be decided by a joint panel that includes a neutral designee.

This process is an alternative to, but does not replace, existing grievance procedures. It offers another approach to problem solving. 

“It’s easy for people to get dug into their own place on an issue,” says Denise Duncan, president of UNAC/UHCP. “Partnership and the National Agreement commit us to spending the time to figure out jointly how to resolve problems and do the work.”

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