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Kaiser Permanente security guards monitor an informational picket outside of the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Medical Center on Nov. 10. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Union leaders representing nearly 50,000 health care workers and medical staff reached a tentative agreement in a labor dispute Saturday, avoiding a strike set to begin Monday.

Why it matters: The breakthrough in talks comes as nurses, front-line technicians and other hospital employees face worker shortages and burnout due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The big picture: More than 30,000 Kaiser Permanente employees in Oregon, Washington, California and other states threatened to walk out on Monday over lower pay for new hires, Reuters reports.

  • Kaiser and the Alliance of Health Care Unions ended up reaching a tentative four-year deal that includes wage increases, health and retirement benefits and bonus opportunities, per CBS News.

What they're saying: "This agreement will mean patients will continue to receive the best care, and Alliance members will have the best jobs," Hal Ruddick, executive director of Alliance, said in the statement.

  • "This landmark agreement positions Kaiser Permanente for a successful future focused on providing high-quality health care that is affordable and accessible for our more than 12 million members and the communities we serve," said Christian Meisner, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Kaiser.

What's next: The agreement heads to union members for ratification, and, if ratified, it will become retroactive to Oct. 1.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Americans shrug off Omicron, Axios-Ipsos poll finds — CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise."
  2. Vaccines: Omicron gives a shot to boosters — U.S. announces $400M for global COVID vaccine distribution — Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down.
  3. States: Gov. Hochul will order some NY hospitals to halt elective surgeries — Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers.
  4. World: EU drug regulator backs mixing COVID vaccines — Poor global equity likely in COVID pill access — CDC raises travel advisories for France, Portugal to highest level amid COVID surge.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
13 hours ago - Health

Ex-FDA chief: COVID jabs could become as common as flu shots

Photo by Alex Edelman-Pool/Getty Images

Former FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn tells Axios that Americans may eventually require annual COVID vaccination boosters, although acknowledges that right now it's just his "best guess."

Why it matters: COVID jabs could become as routine as flu shots.

15 hours ago - Health

Fauci: It's "when, not if" definition of "fully vaccinated" changes

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told CNN Wednesday that in his personal opinion, "it's going to be a matter of when, not if," the definition of "fully vaccinated" changes.

What he's saying: Fauci said he doesn't see the definition "changing tomorrow or next week," but he believes it's "going to be considered literally on a daily basis."