Having cochaired the Labor-Management Partnership at Kaiser Permanente and led the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, John August has an insider's perspective on The Kaiser Permanente Labor-Management Partnership. Today, John August serves as the associate director of the Healthcare Transformation Project within Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations. The project works with health care leaders to improve delivery systems for lower operational costs and better patient care.
Originating in 1997, the Labor-Management Partnership resolved several very serious threats to Kaiser Permanente (KP) and its unions. These threats could have diminished the financial success of KP, thereby, lowering the quality of life of its workers. Everything changed when leading union organizers approached KP with the idea of a partnership through which both the union and KP could collaboratively meet their goals. This partnership became one of the most successful in United States history.
The Labor-Management Partnership created a dialogue between workers, physicians, and managers and on a daily basis, allowing for organizational improvement. Some of the goals of the partnership are to improve care for KP members, develop cost-saving techniques, and maintain industry-leading working conditions and benefits for employees. Today, the Labor Management Partnership is present in seven states and Washington DC, and more than 18,000 physicians, 14,000 managers, and 100,000 union employees participate in the initiative.
With years of experience working with labor unions, John August serves as an associate director of the Healthcare Transformation Project at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Before assuming this role, he was executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions and co-lead of the Kaiser coalition’s national labor management partnership. When away from work, John August enjoys listening to jazz and watching movies.
Recently, John viewed Lance Edmand's film, Bluebird. It is a story of how distractions from day-to-day life, while significant can cause unexpected tragedy. The film begins and ends with the rhythms and flow of a paper mill. While it is clear that the business is failing, most, if not all of the town of Millinocket, Maine is dependent on it. The hard times are evident all around.
One day the main character, a school bus driver is distracted at the end of her shift on an unforgiving cold day. As she is checking the bus for left articles, she notices a bluebird in the bus. That momentary glance distracts her from completing her duties.
The next morning, when she reports to work, she finds one of the young boys near frozen to death in the bus, left overnight asleep. The glimpse of the beautiful bird caused this tragedy. Or did it?
A haunting film about survival, economic, familial, and community, much can be felt from this sad story.
Currently possessing more than three decades of experience in labor management and union organization, John August served as executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, overseeing negotiations and daily operations for an organization representing over 98,000 employees. Following his tenure at Kaiser, John August accepted the role of associate director at Cornell University, where he supports union education in the health-care sector. Outside of his professional activities, he enjoys long-distance road cycling, and has completed numerous century rides.
A milestone for many experienced cyclists, a century ride is a 100-mile cycling event completed in under 12 hours. While they often offer a chance to enjoy long stretches of scenic landscapes, these strenuous events require ample training and preparation.
By striving to remain relaxed during a century ride, cyclists can prevent early fatigue, injury, and strain to the neck and back. Experienced long-distance cyclists advise keeping one’s body loose, with shoulders relaxed and elbows slightly bent. While the majority of century rides offer clear course markings, cycling veterans also recommend bringing along a map or GPS device to add peace-of-mind and further lessen the possibility of getting lost. It is also critical to prepare for the possibility of a flat tire by bringing along at least one spare tire, tube, and CO2 cartridge.
John August previously served as executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permeante Unions, one of the nation’s biggest labor-management groups. Since leaving Kaiser, he has joined Cornell University as an associate director in the school's Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution where he focuses on health-care. In philanthropic matters, John August donates to the Abraham Lincoln Brigades Archives (ALBA).
Headquartered in New York City, ALBA preserves the history of the Abraham Lincoln Brigades. These American volunteers participated in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and fought against fascist forces. Founded in 1978, the archives conducts educational programs enlightening people about the importance and history of these soldiers and their accomplishments.
For the past five years, ALBA has joined with the Puffin Foundation for an ongoing Human Rights Project. This initiative honors the anti-fascist brigades by showing how their legacy has continued throughout the generations and how their impact can be felt in modern human rights advocates.
One way in which ALBA and the Puffin Foundation honor such fighters is through the annual ALBA/Puffin Award for Human Rights Activism. Individuals or groups active in human rights causes are eligible for a $100,000 cash award. Log onto alba-valb.org to learn how to nominate someone for the prize.
John August is the past executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions. An organizer with more than three decades of experience, he has a passion for promoting social justice and fair worker representation.