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Kaiser Permanente: Using Interest-Based Negotiations to Craft a New Collective Bargaining Agreement


  • Robert B. McKersie,

  • Susan C. Eaton,

  • Thomas A. Kochan

  • Robert B. McKersie is the Society of Sloans Fellows Professor Emeritus at the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 50 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02139. Email:


Building on a new labor–management partnership, Kaiser Permanente and its nearly seventy thousand union employees negotiated a five-year contract agreement in 2000 based on the principles of “interest-based negotiations.” The people who made this remarkable achievement happen as well as the historic background of the case are described and analyzed. A key element to the success of this initiative was the back-and-forth work of many different groups, including joint labor–management committee, coalitions of unions, bargaining task groups focused on particular subject areas, and local and national leaders of the company and its unions. Using illustrative comments from actual participants in this complex, nearly year-long negotiation process, the authors explore how the parties crafted their agreement.