More than 85,000 healthcare workers across the U.S. are mobilizing as contract negotiations get under way with Kaiser Permanente, after the healthcare giant recently agreed to drop a ban on employees’ speaking out on patient care issues and engaging in political activity as a condition to start bargaining. Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Union (CKPU) workers from across the country are eager to resume contract negotiations.

“We are eager to continue our partnership with Kaiser Permanente to strengthen patient care at its facilities throughout the country, but not under the conditions they demanded that would have put patients and caregivers at risk,” said Tamara R.Rubyn, Secretary Treasurer of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. “We’re thankful to have resolved this impasse and look forward to resuming negotiations and ultimately securing a new national agreement for Kaiser workers.”

Bargaining sessions will be held April 17 through April 19 between the company and the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which comprises 11 labor unions in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. The coalition’s national agreement with Kaiser Permanente expired Sept. 30, 2018.

The coalition filed a complaint in May 2018 with the National Labor Relations Board over Kaiser’s refusal to bargain. Workers said that Kaiser’s proposed ban on employees speaking out about patient care issues or taking action against the company through ballot initiatives, legislation or other public campaigns, violated federal law. The board issued charges against Kaiser, and a hearing on the complaint is scheduled for April 22 before an administrative law judge in Oakland.