By Don McIntosh
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555 is leaving the recently-formed Alliance of Health Care Unions (ACHU) as of Jan. 1 and rejoining the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions (CKPU).
ACHU is a coalition of 22 local unions representing about 47,000 workers in eight states at Kaiser Permanente; it broke away last year from the existing CKPU. About 11 local unions and 80,000 workers remained in CKPU, which has been in existence since 1996. The two union coalitions negotiated and ratified separate national collective bargaining agreements with Kaiser earlier this year.
Local 555 has been one of 12 UFCW locals in the ACHU. It represents about 1,000 pharmacy technicians and imaging technology workers at Kaiser locations in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
Local 555 healthcare division coordinator Esai Alday said the local decided to leave because ACHU made a change to its governing structure that left Local 555 with no representation on the coalition’s governing body.
“For us, it’s really a matter of about making sure that we have a voice in decisions that directly affect our membership.”
Local 555 members at Kaiser, both coalitions, and Kaiser itself were notified of the decision to leave ACHU on Dec. 11.
Alday said the shift will have no effect on members from a contractual standpoint. Their wages, benefits and workplace rights will remain the same under the local collective bargaining agreement that runs through October 2021. ACHU’s national agreement is an addendum to that agreement. The decision means that Local 555 will bargain with CKPU unions when the contract comes up for renewal.
“We see a positive impact on members in the bigger picture—of having a voice at the table,” Alday said, “so that their representatives have a say in all decisions that are made through the coalition that could affect them.”