The Guild and Kaiser had a lengthy mediation meeting on 7/31/2014 regarding the shift conversions from 4/10’s to 5/8’s in 7 facilities (Redwood City, South SF, Fremont, Vallejo, Fresno, Modesto, CPP). Present at the mediation meeting were 9 representatives from Kaiser (which included 5 Area Pharmacy Directors, 1 Regional HR, 1 Pharmacy Leader, and 2 Kaiser lawyers), while the Guild had 3 representatives along with our labor attorney (Mr. Jason Jasmine). The 3 Guild Representatives present were Jocelyn Karyautomo (GFPP KP NorCal Rep), Andy Wong (GFPP Board member, RWC pharmacist) and John Lee (GFPP Board member, CPP pharmacist). The mediator present was Joel Schaffer from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
Although we went into the mediation believing we had a very strong case (with a few potential weaknesses,) we were presented with information during the mediation that Kaiser indicated it just recently discovered (and we were not aware of it). Specifically, it was an Alternate Work Schedule Agreement, negotiated between the Guild and Kaiser, regarding the 4/10’s, and signed by all individuals who were permitted to work 4/10’s. This agreement expressly gave Kaiser the right to cancel the 4/10’s upon 30-days’ notice (see top paragraph on page 4 of this agreement). From looking at the document, it appears that in 2007 it was on the Guild website (remnant of the Ralph Vogel administration). Unfortunately, the existence of this document (and confirmation of its history and intent by Guild)severely weakened our case. Realistically, the only argument we had left was that Kaiser was still required (and failed) to bargain over the impacts of the change. The problem is that if we were to have proceeded to arbitration with just that as a viable claim, the only realistic potential remedy would be an order to bargain over the impacts. Most likely there would not even be an order to return to the status quo during that period of time, but even if there were, that remedy would end up being counter-productive as it would force employees who have been switched from 4/10’s to 5/8’s back to 4/10’s for a short period of time, and then back to 5/8’s causing more disruption for the employees for very little gain.
In spite of the weakness of our position, we were in a mediation, so there was no harm in pressing. As a result, we were able to reach the agreement which Kaiser agreed to compensate each impacted employee at the 7 facilities that have switched from 4/10’s to 5/8’s through a one-time pre-tax payment of $1,000 each. Kaiser also agreed to (under a negotiated time table) bargain over the impacts of the changes at those 7 facilities with the understanding that there may be a possibility of some employees switching back to 4/10’s. Kaiser was very straight-forward and said there was no promise that any of the impacted employees would be permitted to work the 4/10’s, but that it was open for discussion (together with the other impacts). At the 4 facilities that have not yet switched over, we agreed on a process to bargain over the impacts if and when Kaiser provides notice of an intent to change those facilities to 5/8. Overall, given the information that was presented to us during the mediation, we believe this to be a strong result and the best outcome considering the circumstance. We believe there are between 85 and 89 employees who will be eligible to receive the $1,000 payment, and we also believe there is a chance that the impact bargaining might bear some fruit.