To the Editor:

An important conversation took place Wednesday, Jan. 15 at the Slifka Center concerning a unique labor-management partnership that has been successfully developed at Kaiser Permanente, America’s largest health maintenance organization.

It was truly moving to listen to Peter DiCicco, executive director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, an AFL-CIO affiliate, converse publicly with Anthony Gately, the Kaiser Permanente vice president in charge of what they proudly flag as a true “partnership.”

Both gentlemen contend that the model of cooperation they arrived at in 1998 is relevant to every American work place. They acknowledge that it was achieved only after years of struggle, that it is still very much a work in progress which, like every successful partnership, requires constant vigilance and nurture.

As they described an arrangement that brings over 30 unions representing 65,000 workers together with management executives into organizational structures where management and unions work together to address operational issues, the men exuded excitement, pride and even surprise. They seemed to embody the partnership they discussed.

One cannot help but wonder whether there is not a way that the fruits of Kaiser Permanente’s hard-won partnership might not be harvested, mutatis mutandis, somehow at Yale.

Rabbi James Ponet

January 16, 2003

The writer is the Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain.