OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A major hospital strike that threatened the health care of thousands of Bay Area residents was averted early Wednesday as union workers and officials from Kaiser Permanente reached a tentative agreement on a new contract.

Georgette Bradford, an ultrasound technologist at Kaiser in Sacramento, said the new deal would “rebuild the worker-management partnership” that had become fractured during the five months of contract negotiations.

“Reaching an agreement was not easy,” she said. “It had lots of twists and turns, but in the end we accomplished what we set out to do – reach an agreement that is good for patients, workers and our communities.”

Kaiser officials also focused on employee relations when announcing the deal.

“We greatly respect and value our employees who deliver on our mission every day,” said Arlene Peasnall, interim chief human resources officer, Kaiser Permanente Health Plan and Hospitals. “This agreement is a testament to the dedication, compassion and skill those employees bring to work every day.”

The new deal sets up a $130 million workforce development program and also protects jobs. Kaiser would be prevented from subcontracting some services under the agreement and also have stronger restrictions on outsourcing.

Under the new deal, workers will receive annual raises of 3 percent in each of the four years.

If ratified by 85,000-plus workers in the coming weeks, the four-year agreement between Kaiser and seven unions in six states and the District of Columbia would avert a nationwide strike that was scheduled to begin Oct. 14.

The new contract would have an effective date of October 1, 2019, and would cover more than 85,000 health care employees: 67,000 in California; 8,300 in Oregon and Washington; 3,100 in Colorado; 5,000 in Maryland, Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia; and 1,000 in Hawaii.

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