UPW Workers Vote To Ratify New Contract at Maui Health Ending Two-Month Strike

Portside Date:
Author: Wendy Osher
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Maui Now

Nearly 500 frontline healthcare workers at Kaiser’s Maui Health System have voted to ratify a new three-year contract, ending a nearly two-month strike. Maui Health reports the vote brings the strike to an end immediately.

Members of the United Public Workers AFSCME, Local 646, AFL-CIO voted 87% in favor of the new agreement.  

On Tuesday, April 11, 2023, after a full day of discussions, the bargaining committees for Maui Health and UPW reached a tentative agreement. Voting to ratify the agreement took place over the last two days on Maui and Lānaʻi and concluded late this afternoon, according to Maui Health.

“The new contract represents months of hard work and determination and is reflective of the sacrifices our members have made during the strike,” said United Public Workers AFSCME, Local 646, AFL-CIO State Director Kalani Werner in a news release. “Our members labored through the pandemic and have had to continue to endure staffing shortages, so while this is a step in the right direction, there is still work to be done. We will do everything we can to ensure future contracts provide adequate pay increases, fair working conditions, and demonstrate the importance of our members.” 

“Nothing makes us happier than to have our team back together and whole again,” said Kerry Watson, Maui Health Interim CEO in response to the ratification. “We are sincerely grateful to both bargaining committees, our own team and the UPW team, for working countless hours over the last ten months to achieve a fair and equitable agreement for our employees.”

Watson said “there are really no words” to express gratitude to the team of employees and providers at Maui Health. “Despite the mountain of challenges they’ve faced through COVID and the past almost eight weeks of the strike, they worked tirelessly to ensure our patients receive safe, quality and compassionate care. Maui Health is truly a special place, and I am humbled and honored to work alongside this team.”

Mayor Richard Bissen responded to the news saying, “I want to thank federal mediator Herman Brown, Kalani Werner and his team at UPW, and Kerry Watson and the team at Maui Health for their efforts to reach a settlement. They and the many others behind the scenes who assisted have worked very hard to get to this crucial point. Important not as a hospital or union issue but truly as a community issue. Healthcare is critical to our residents and our visitors.” 

According to the union, the new contract includes pay-scale adjustments for all job classifications, at least a 10.5% wage increase for all members, and a lump sum payment for all members, among other benefits.

“Our members are extremely grateful for the community’s support throughout this entire process,” said Werner. “They are ready to get back to work delivering the high-quality care and service the community deserves.”  

Nurses aides, respiratory therapists, licensed practical nurses, housekeepers, cooks and other workers at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital and Lānaʻi Community Hospital had been on strike since Feb. 22, 2023.

In a news release, Maui Health extended appreciation to the communities of Maui and Lānaʻi for their patience, and continued support of our health care workers. Executives say they remain committed to the mission to “provide exceptional health care” with “compassion, dignity and respect.”

UPW-represented employees will return to work at their respective Maui Health facilities as early as Sunday, April 16, according to hospital executives.

*This post was updated to include reaction from Maui Health and Mayor Bissen.

Wendy Osher 
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

Source URL: https://portside.org/2023-04-19/upw-workers-vote-ratify-new-contract-maui-health-ending-two-month-strike