Since 2006, John August has worked with unions and health systems to provide strategic guidance, strategic planning, facilitation and development of labor-management partnerships, health system transformation, and union leadership in performance improvement.
“I look forward to work I am currently doing and work ahead in the facilitation, coaching, and leadership development towards a “patient/community-centered labor-management dynamic”.
Much of John’s experience was both developed and practiced when he served as the Executive Director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions from April, 2006 until July, 2013. While serving as Executive Director of the Coalition, John was the co-chair of the Labor-Management Partnership at Kaiser Permanente. John helped guide the development of nearly 4,000 Unit Based Teams. These teams are the foundation of performance improvement at Kaiser Permanente based on the transformational relationships and learning of frontline union members, managers, and physicians in the organization.
“We want to thank all of the physicians, nurses, care teams, administrative staff, and the more than 3,400 unit-based teams, established through our Labor Management Partnership, who are dedicated to serving KP’s one million Medicare members and who helped us achieve these outstanding results. The star ratings demonstrate how the people of Kaiser Permanente – supported by our integrated delivery system and electronic health record – apply our unique approach to frontline engagement, problem solving, and performance improvement to make the lives of our members better.” Dr. Jed Weissberg, MD, then-Senior Vice President for Quality on the occasion of Kaiser Permanente receiving its Medicare 5-star ratings in 2012
He also led the Coalition as chief negotiator in three successful rounds of National Bargaining in 2008, 2010, and 2012 on behalf of 100,000 members of the Coalition.
John joined the staff of Cornell-ILR at its Outreach and Extension Division in New York City in September, 2013. Since July 1, 2017, he serves as Program Director of the Partners Program, Healthcare Labor Relations.
Current projects include:
- Guiding SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, the 25,000 member healthcare union on a journey of its own “Healthcare Transformation”. This is a great example of union leadership and union members evolving their roles in relation to the industry and their communities. As communities, patients, employers, payers, and policy makers demand more value and better population health, the evolving role of the frontline healthcare worker has never been more important. The goal of this exciting effort is to enable and empower the unionized workforce to lead on quality improvement, patient experience, and affordability, while building the conditions for the best places to work for the workforce of the future. Today, the local union’s members are directly involved in improvement projects in 50+ units, members and staff are learning conflict resolution practices and learning interest based bargaining.
- Guiding Doctors Council, SEIU in its work to establish Collaboration Councils between attending physicians and dentists in the nation’s largest public health system, New York City Health and Hospitals (NYC H+H). These Councils which now exist in all of the 22 major facilities of the system are selecting improvement projects designed to enhance patient experience and doctor engagement.
- In conjunction with the leadership of the Cornell-ILR Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution, John is helping to build the healthcare section of the new Partners Program. This Program has attracted interest from more than 30 health systems leaders, union leaders, law firms, and policy makers. It is designed to create a unique peer-to-peer learning forum in the challenges facing the workforce in the rapidly evolving healthcare transformation in the nation. Partners Program has the guidance of the world-leading Cornell-ILR faculty, staff, and its research capacity and resources.
- Guiding a new Strategic Alliance between Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island and its unionized workforce, members of of SEIU 1199 New England. The parties have committed to a new labor-management partnership designed to improve overall patient centered performance, workforce development and labor relations. Current priorities for improvement include: reduced number of Leaves of Absence, a successful joint Healthcare Committee which is looking at ways of improving utilization and costs in the health plans, reducing work-related illness and injury, and finding new approaches to improving the general health of the workforce and their beneficiaries through programs of active living and healthy eating as well as improvement in key bio-metric indicators of chronic illness.
- Facilitation of Interest Based Bargaining for a renewal contract covering 7,000 workers in 9 hospitals of Steward Health in Boston, whose members are represented by SEIU 1199 UHE/Massachusetts.
- Facilitation, training, and technical assistance to Steward Health and SEIU 1199 UHE/Massachusetts to implement the Strategic Alliance negotiated in the 2019 bargaining. Goals include the establishment of functioning Labor Management Teams in each of the nine facilities of the system in Greater Boston, and decision-making in the development of improvement projects which provide for Incentive Bonus payments to frontline workers who participate in successful projects related to improved categories of Patient Experience
- Providing strategic counseling and technical assistance to a Coalition of Unions and the proposed merger of LifeSpan and Care New England into a new academic integrated health system with Brown University. Assistance includes development of Career Security Processes in a new health system which will combine seven hospitals and the anticipated building of many new facilities to serve the Rhode island Community. Severe workforce shortages and future-oriented workforce planning and development is another major area of focus. Finally, the parties want to complete a fair and responsible means for Union growth in an expanding system.
- Participating in Cornell-ILR research projects which study the impact of clinical and organizational integration on employee engagement, and the causes of workforce shortages in the healthcare industry.
In December, 2013, John was appointed as a member of the Payment and Oversight Panel (PAOP) of the Delivery System Reform Incentive Program of the New York State Department of Health Medicaid Reform Program. This massive transformation effort is designed to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations by 25% over five years in the New York State Medicaid population. John serves on the Workforce Subcommittee of the PAOP and was a featured presenter at the first ever Workforce Planning day to be held in June, 2016.
John has more than 40 years of experience in the US labor movement.
John has organized and represented all classifications of health care workers, social workers, airline mechanics, truck drivers, public employees, bus drivers, and college teachers among others. His experiences in organizing have occurred throughout the United States, including the Deep South.
John is a frequent speaker to academic, public policy, trade union, and government forums on innovation in labor-management relations, healthcare improvement, workforce engagement, collective bargaining and organizing.
In November, 2009, John represented the United States at the Tri-Partite Meeting of the Governing Board of the International Labor Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.
He has presented at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement National Forum on several occasions. Most recently, he served as faculty at IHI’s first Leadership Alliance Forum in March, 2016.
John earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin and completed graduate course work in European History and Educational Policy Studies.
John was a Teamster shop steward for 7 years; then went on to be an organizer for District 1199P, and later President of 1199P, the health care workers union of Pennsylvania. In 1994, John joined the staff of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters where he served as National Organizing Coordinator.
Before working for SEIU in 2001, John served as an organizing consultant to the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and as the Organizing Director for the Health Care Division of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).