United for Good Care and Good Jobs

Coalition RN council unites union nurses at KP

We are looking to establish a clear RN vision

Registered nurses across the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions are uniting to establish a clear vision and strategic plan to elevate the practice of nursing and jointly work with Kaiser Permanente peers on issues ranging from workload and backfill to patient safety.

The  group—known as the Council of Kaiser Permanente Registered Nurses—includes Coalition locals from UFCW, AFSCME, AFT, OPEIU and SEIU. They represent close to 50,000 RNs.

Practice councils

These councils, which will include other practice areas such as laboratory science and pharmacy, are designed to ensure union interests are heard and considered at every level of the organization, as intended under the Labor Management Partnership.

“The idea is to amplify the voices of our nurses,” said Becky Sassaman, RN, a member of Colorado’s UFCW Local 7. UFCW locals represent nurses, among a variety of health care workers, in nearly all KP regions. “By building a strong union nursing community, we are better able to improve the lives of working nurses and promote wellness for all.”

“Our union members are providing some of the best health care in the nation,” said Denise Duncan, president of UNAC/UHCP, an AFSCME affiliate in Southern California. “We need to build on it, organize new members around it and remind everyone why skilled nursing and organized labor make a difference in giving the best care—and getting the best care.”

Maureen Meehan-Golonka, president of Hawaii Nurses Association, OPEIU Local 50, says the council helps her keep a better eye on changes and challenges that might happen in a similar region such as the Mid-Atlantic States before affecting her members: “We are not in

silos. We have the opportunity to do some strategic thinking before it 

even hits.”
But, she said, the same themes often run across the nation in Kaiser Permanente clinics and hospitals: “This council allows our nurses to tap into successes of other regions—and vice versa.”

The RN council meets regularly to identify priorities for strategic action, such as:

• New opportunities for growth and career advancement of nurses
• Support programs for new graduates and cross-training
• Making lasting improvements in just culture, workplace and patient safety, assault and abuse prevention and national safe patient-to-RN ratios.

“We are looking to establish a clear RN vision and then strategies to approach the employer on issues such as acuity, workload and backfill,” said Adrienne Enghouse, RN, executive president OFNHP, a Portland-based AFT local representing nurses and other health care professionals in the Northwest region.

The council aims to unite and align the interests of RNs, while promoting a common strategy for public policy and community action. Locals in the council are advancing community engagement efforts by working on a domestic violence project during Nurses Week 2018.