US medical facilities strike deal

of the world’s largest partnership deals helped a US health- care provider
improve productivity and avoid industrial action.

Thomas A Kochan, speaking at the Modernizing Employment in the 21st Century
Conference last week, said an agreement was formed between 26 local unions and
covers 62,000 staff at more than 400 medical facilities around the US.

said the deal, known as the Kaiser Permanente partnership, had proved extremely
beneficial for the organisation and staff.

partnership, initially negotiated in 1997, contributed to cutting the time it
took to build a hospital, and increased patient satisfaction after major input
from frontline staff.

also used the partnership agreement to suggest improvements to procedures that
helped halve the operation turnaround time for patients.

partnership also saved an optical lab threatened with closure after workers
came up with new ideas to improve productivity and a union supervisor was moved
into a key management position. This prevented a strike, reduced breakage and
eventually increased revenue by $5.5m.

said partnership deals were still rare in the US and even in the case of Kaiser
Permanente, only about 25 per cent of staff had been involved with, or even
heard of the partnership. He said the scheme, which costs about $12m to run,
still struggles to get employer and employee buy-in despite its successes.

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