Healthcare Labor-Management Partnership Provides an Example for All Workplaces

A few weeks ago, we blogged about Kaiser Permanente as the proof working together in healthcare works. The Labor-Management Partnership(LMP) at Kaiser Permanente isn’t just about employee engagement in healthcare. It’s also a great example of how employee engagement works at any workplace. It shows labor and management work together to resolve problems – and not just small problems but problems saving people’s lives.

There are 27 unions involved in the LMP and 100,000 employees across the country are represented by those unions. In the video, A New Way, on the website of the LMP(, the story of Kaiser Permanente is told. The medical care system came about from the healthcare system Henry Kaiser, shipyard builder, provided for his employees during World War II.

Once the war was over, not as many employees were needed so the healthcare system was on the verge of collapse. Harry Bridges, founder of the Longshoremen’s union, encouraged the continuation of the healthcare system. This provided a strong foundation for the LMP but it hasn’t been without its strifes. In 1997, both sides said they were tired of their conflicts and were ready to work together to create what has become a model for labor-management cooperation in any industry or organization.

In another video on the LMP website, Not My Father’s Union ( union members talk about the stereotype of the old union model versus the cooperative process and how it benefits the union and individual members, managers and the customers or patients. The video talks about the problem solving unions are involved in and how members take a lead role in resolving the problems and helping their customers or patients achieve their goals.

Management’s concerns about involving the workforce are addressed in the video, Management 101: Partnership Ties My Hands( It takes some of the myths managers have about employee engagement in colloquial way to help identify the concerns are just the myths that have been out there for years and years. Some of these myths are only managers can make decisions and must be in control and maintain power, involving employees in decision-making take too long, the fear of turning decisions over to employees could destroy the budget, and rules must be made and followed and employees will only work within the boundaries of their job description. All of these myths, of course, are rejected in the video.

The politics of today are trying to create those old myths into reality but this is one organization that proves them wrong. Labor and management can not only work together to help each other but they can work together to provide better service for their customers, come up with new ideas to be more competitive and deal with change, and create one of the best places to work.

Labor-management partnerships work. Look around the LMP website to see all the problems they have solved together. They recently sent an email out to subscribers telling about all the great accomplishments in 2013 and they had a lot!

About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at
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