The Kaiser Permanente Nurse Anesthetists Association (KPNAA) is a union of certified nurse anesthetists that work for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group. We have 350 members of our union working in facilities across the Southern California area. KPNAA members provide professional excellence through advocacy, unity, and vigilance.
In 1978 Kaiser Permanente’s (KP) internal structure was strongly encouraging the organization of nurses into existing bargaining groups. At that time, the United Nurses Association of California (UNAC) was the premier nursing union for the Southern California region’s seven Kaiser Foundation Hospital (KFH) Medical Centers. Having been independent employees of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group (SCPMG) for many years, the CRNAs were reluctant to become part of a large union structure despite the organizational pressure and purported benefits. There was some benefit to bargaining contracts as a group and no option to become partners of the physician-only SCPMG.
At the time, several CRNA’s from across the region had been meeting occasionally for Saturday brunch to update each other on activities across the region sharing items of professional and personal interest. Bette Greene, CRNA, had kept informal notes (legend has it on the proverbial cocktail napkin). The opportunities at the time were to organize in affiliation with an existing bargaining unit, appeal to SCPMG to remain independent employees or seek an independent organization status through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In an outstanding bit of strategy vs. luck, the notes compiled to date were enough to convince the NLRB of the independent status of the CRNAs. This was a time when independent unions were permitted outside of the AFL-CIO or other national affiliates. The NLRB’s 1979 decision allowed the Kaiser Permanente Nurse Anesthetists Association of Southern California to be formed representing all CRNA’s employed by the SCPMG. Our Association was certified as a regional union, not hospital by hospital as most other nursing unions function.