comscore Kaiser workers approve deal with modified retirement plan | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Kaiser workers approve deal with modified retirement plan

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Nearly 100 Kaiser Permanente Hawaii diagnostic imaging technicians have ratified a new three-year collective bargaining agreement that provides for "modest" wage increases but changes the retirement benefits for future employees to a 401(k)-type plan from a traditional pension plan.

The 96 technicians, represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 142, work in areas such as radiology, nuclear medicine, angiography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs), special procedures, CT and mammography. The technicians work on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island.

Kaiser, the state’s second-largest health insurer, and a union official declined Tuesday to disclose the amount of the wage increases.

"The ratification of this new contract reflects give-and-take by both sides," Kaiser spokes­woman Laura Lott said.

The new contract is retroactive to April 1 and runs through March 31, 2016. Employees hired after Jan. 1, 2015, will be eligible for a 403(b) defined contribution plan — similar to a 401(k) — while existing employees and those hired before that 2015 date will have a defined benefit plan, or traditional pension.

"Kaiser Permanente is following a national and local trend moving toward a benefit cost structure that provides a secure retirement for our employee while ensuring the long-term sustainability of the organization," Lott said.

Lott pointed out that the number of companies offering defined benefit plans in Hawaii has declined to 24.8 percent in 2012 from 30.4 percent in 2009, according to a survey conducted by the Hawaii Employers Council.

Kaiser, which has 4,500 employees, is still in contract negotiations with Unite Here Local 5, which represents maintenance workers, medical assistants, food service workers, housekeeping, and operating room and pharmacy technicians, among others.

The union held a one-day work stoppage last month to protest increased employee workloads and other impacts from March’s closure of the Hono­lulu Clinic Urgent Care Center.

Kaiser’s other union is the Hawaii Nurses Association.

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