Tag Archives: San Francisco

San Francisco Housing Authority Stand Up, Fight Back, and Win

Punch SF Housing Authority for webOn July 12 Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) workers united in SEIU 1021 ratified a two-year contract. The agreement between SFHA and the workers secures cost-of-living increases and a stipend to be used towards healthcare.

“One of our main priorities was affordable healthcare for our families and a wage that keeps up with the cost of living in San Francisco, ” said Teresa Lee, SEIU 1021 SFHA Chapter President. Workers took action to fight for the issues that mattered to them and showed that when workers stand united, they win.

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911 Dispatchers Testify about Staffing Crisis at San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management

911 Dispatcher TestifyOn June 12, San Francisco Emergency Dispatchers testified before the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee about the severe and chronic staffing shortages that have led to unsustainable workloads, imperiling public safety. SEIU 1021 members spoke of the city’s failure to hire and retain dispatchers to fix the staffing gap.

“Inadequate staffing at 911 is an injustice that puts people’s lives in danger. The department survives on a bare-bones staff who are required to work overtime, which adds to burnout from the high-stress job,” said Burt Wilson, a 9-year Public Safety Communications Dispatcher.

“We calm frantic callers requesting help for a family member having a heart attack. We provide emergency support in a foot pursuit of an armed robbery suspect, and we assist the elderly unable to get home. As stressful as these calls are, a constant stress is that we have a department unable to support them,” said Natalie Elicetche, a 15-year veteran, in her testimony before the Public Safety Committee.

In the News:
San Francisco Chronicle. “No easy answers for SF’s frustrated, overworked 911 dispatchers”
KTVU: “911 dispatchers in SF tell supervisors they’re overworked, understaffed”

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SEIU 1021 Members Testify to Workers’ Rights Board about Impact of Adjunct Faculty Working Conditions on Higher Education

Faculty and students from SFSU, CCSF and SFAI address the Workers' Rights Board panel September 9, 2015.

Faculty and students from SFSU, CCSF and SFAI address the Workers’ Rights Board panel September 9, 2015.

SAN FRANCISCO–Wednesday, September 9, about 100 people gathered at the St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in the Mission District for a Workers’ Rights Board Hearing on the future of higher education in San Francisco. Faculty and students from the California State University, City College of San Francisco and three SEIU 1021 members from San Francisco Art Institute testified to the poor and declining pay and working conditions within their institutions and the higher education system as a whole.
“I was born in France, and emigrated to the United States hoping to move away from job insecurity, precarious jobs, temporary jobs…This summer I was supposed to teach a statistics class at City College. The week before classes started, I got an email saying, Sorry, your class got cut. Good luck this summer. That was my main income plan for the summer. This fall, I didn’t get my regular load, and I have no idea what I’m going to be teaching this spring. I cannot plan ahead,” said Mousa Rebouh, who teaches math at City College as well as other schools. “I have three kids…My daughter used to attend gymnastics. She liked it a lot. My situation made it so that I can’t plan ahead and can’t pay for it anymore. She looked forward to it the entire week. I had to take her out of it, and she doesn’t understand why she’s not going to gymnastics anymore.”Jessica Beard, an adjunct professor (and SEIU 1021 member) at San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) who currently serves on their bargaining team, spoke about the process of fighting back against these conditions. “Bringing everyone together to vote for this union when our interests and priorities were diverse and sometimes divergent was difficult…For our membership, one notion that echoes through all of our efforts, especially our more visible ones, is that we really have nothing to lose. Without a contract, the administration owes us nothing, and as we return to the bargaining table again and again and again, in search of a seemingly impossible job security agreement, we sometimes use that to our advantage. We have to fight hard…Especially invigorating for most of us on the bargaining team is how being members of SEIU 1021 has brought us together with other adjuncts, fast food workers with the Fight for 15, nurses and staff from our own institutions. This changes the narrative as isolated workers and strengthens our presence on campus and at the bargaining table.”

After a rousing call to action from students who have been helping faculty’s efforts to win a fair contract, the Workers’ Rights Board panel, including SF District 1 Supervisor Eric Mar, Vice-President of the SF Unified School District Board of Education Matt Haney, Rev. Richard L. Smith of St. John’s, renowned playwright and educator Cherrie Moraga, prominent artist and educator Celia Herrera Rodriguez, and Executive Director of the Jamestown Community Center Myrna Melgar, responded to what they had heard.

“I taught at SF State for 16 years, and I helped found New College of California, so I identify with what the SFAI folks are dealing with, and the victimization and demonization that courageous faculty organizing are facing. We as government officials have to do everything we can to hold accountable institutions that are really squeezing the lowest-paid workers and taking away this ideal of education that can make you a better servant to your community,” said Sup. Eric Mar.

“What kind of sickness has come across our city, our society, when we would dismantle the very thing that is the source of our prosperity? When we would attack the very people who are most essential–our educators? There’s something deeply wrong at the core when we’re having a conversation of people who are undermined and attacked, who should be celebrated and supported. In this city especially, the amount of wealth in this city, that we would be having this conversation here in this very place where blocks from here they’re renting 1-bedroom apartments for $7,000, selling million-dollar condos, that we wouldn’t support our young people to have a future in this city? There can be nothing more shameful than that,” said Matt Haney, elected SF School Board member.

The SFAI Poster Syndicate, led by SFAI adjunct professor Art Hazelwood, produced a series of prints for participants and guests.


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A rapt audience watches a compelling performance by Guillermo Gomez-Pena at No Justice No Service: Bay  Area Art & Education Justice Festival on Sunday, March 8.

A rapt audience watches a compelling performance by Guillermo Gomez-Pena at No Justice No Service: Bay Area Art & Education Justice Festival on Sunday, March 8.

Sunday, March 8, hundreds of adjunct professors, students, artists, low-wage workers, activists and artists joined forces at the Lab in San Francisco for No Justice No Service: Bay Area Art and Education Justice Festival. A host of installations, silkscreen printings, poetry readings and spoken word performances addressed pressing social and economic justice issues, including the corporatization of American education, institutionalized discrimination, income inequality and the related displacement of artists and communities of color, and invited visitors not just to watch but interact with the issues.

Visitors partaking of the delicious black bean stew, kale salad and polenta at the Slow Food Fast Food Cafe were invited to consider the injustice of a system that does not allow the poor adequate nourishment. 1021 member Cara Levine’s “Strike” punching bag installation highlighted the resilient spirit of working people. Danielle Wright’s floor installation was a visual and tactile demonstration of the challenges of race relations in the US, as visitors quite literally walked on eggshells around the subject of race. 1021 member Christian Schoff-Nagler led the guests in a politically charged session of Yoga for Adjuncts, where participants meditated on the predatory, for-profit model of online education and its influence on higher education as a whole as they performed simple poses. San Francisco Art Institute alumnus Jessica Tully celebrated labor history through intricate aerosol-chalk stencils in front of the venue. California College of the Arts (CCA) alumnus and event organizer Cassie Thornton displayed her Alternative Credit Reports, which examine the value of individuals’ non-economic attributes and help them demystify the construct of debt. 1021 member Art Hazelwood and students of the SFAI Poster Syndicate made silkscreen prints of 5 designs honoring adjunct professors and fast food workers on the sidewalk, attracting interest not only from guests of the event but also passersby. Fast food worker and Fight for 15 organizer Chris Higgenbotham performed a powerful spoken word poem about his experience growing up black in America. Renowned performers Guillermo Gomez-Pena of La Pocha Nostra and Keith Hennessy also dazzled attendees with hard-hitting poems dealing with race and social injustice. CCA students helped visitors create patches emblazoned with the slogans “We are 2 cool for a corporate school!” and “Take back our schools,” using stamps they had designed themselves, and gave oracle card readings. SF Labor Archives director Catherine Powell gave a compelling presentation of labor history in the Bay Area. These were just a few of the contributions from participating groups and individuals.

Activist groups such as Strike Debt, Fight for 15, Black Organizing Network-Oakland, Shaping SF, the Compensation Foundation and Critical Resistance had tables and gave presentations of their efforts to combat social, economic and education injustices in the region.

To see photos of the event, click here.

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SF workers block pension investment in hedge funds — mostly

For some eight months SEIU 1021 San Francisco City and County workers campaigned against having any part of their $20 billion pension fund invested in high-risk hedge funds. But at its Feb. 11 meeting, the trustees of the San Francisco Employees Retirement System (SFERS), who oversee that retirement money, voted to put 5% of it into that controversial investment.

“This is really a victory for us, even if only a partial one,” said David Williams, president of SEIU 1021’s West Bay Retirees chapter, noting that the original proposal was for a 15% investment. “Our members’ actions reduced their exposure to hedge fund risks by two thirds. And even what’s left has hurdles to get over before it’s done.”

SEIU 1021 members packed five of the SFERS board’s monthly meetings and many of them spoke passionately and informatively against having their retirement savings put into risky investments. They also collected nearly 3,000 signatures of retired and active members on a petition against the proposal.

Hedge funds are aggressively managed portfolios of unregulated investments. They trade high risk in an attempt to get high returns.

The pressure had made the staff’s 15% proposal untenable, so pro-hedge fund trustee Brian Stansbury proposed only a 5% investment. Again some 30 members spent hours testifying at the meeting, hammering the proposal as not only too volatile for a pension fund needing stability to make monthly payments, but also too costly to administer, and lacking in transparency for members to know what is being invested in.

But when the vote was finally officially taken sometime well into the meeting’s fifth hour, the trustees went 6-1 for the 5% proposal. Only Herb Meiberger, a former SEIU member and the union’s elected representative on the board for the last 23 years, voted against it.

“One of the good things that came out of this is that we have many members mobilized and asking questions about where the money is going,” said Martha Hawthorne, a retired SEIU 1021 public health nurse working with Fossil Free San Francisco, a group trying to keep public investment out of climate changing fossil fuels. “Hedge funds aren’t the only bad investments here.”

Nearly lost in the hedge fund controversy, the board also changed its entire “asset allocation” formula, how it divides its investment money. The new asset allocation plan increases private equity investments to 18% from 16% and real estate assets to 17% from 12%. Global equity will be reduced to 40% from 47%, and fixed income to 20% from 25%.

Of concern to local activists was the allotment of $150 million of the increased real estate portfolio to Blackstone, the single largest holder of residential rental housing in the country and renowned for buying up rental units, jacking up the rents and evicting long-term tenants.

Left undecided in the board’s decision is the question of who will operate SFERS’ hedge fund investments. Will it be yet-to-be-hired SFERS in house staff or a contracted out hedge fund management firm?

There are arguments both ways. Keeping the work in house should allow for more transparency and control over whether the investments go into fossil fuels and anti-union firms or not. But it also raises the issue of creating an internal infrastructure and self-perpetuating bureaucracy invested in continuing in hedge funds. If this “experiment” in hedge funds goes wrong, it will be that much harder to jettison the program.

“This is the time for ‘due diligence’” said Jon Meade, a retired SEIU 1021 paramedic working on issue. “Who gets our $1 billion and how does that decision get vetted?”

In any event, it will take the SFERS board anywhere from one to two years to put all the pieces together and actually invest the money.

“This is just the beginning,” Williams said. “There is still staff to hire, infrastructure to put in place and questions about the transparency on how all this will be done. The guidelines for all this should have been worked out before the decision was made, not after.”

“We have a lot more work to do to get this board in line,” Williams added.

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People with Developmental Disabilities and Their Service Providers Call on Gov. Brown to Restore Funding

People with developmental disabilities and their service providers rally outside the California State Building in San Francisco on Thursday, May 15.

People with developmental disabilities and their service providers rally outside the California State Building in San Francisco on Thursday, May 15.

Gov. Jerry Brown has ignored people with developmental disabilities in his budget. They, along with their service providers, feel betrayed. Budgeted at 1990 levels, and with over $1 billion cut by the state from their bottom line, California’s DD system is on the verge of collapse—and Jerry Brown has proposed doing next to nothing to save it.

“The clients we serve don’t progress because funding has been cut, and we who provide services can’t make ends meet,” says Gary Gregerson, a direct service professional who has worked for over 17 years at the Arc of San Francisco, an agency that provides training in independent living, job coaching and employment placement, and recreation to adults with cognitive and intellectual disabilities. “I love what I do, but I have thought about changing careers. I can’t continue to live on $30,000 a year.”

Adults with developmental disabilities and their service providers rallied outside the California State Building in San Francisco on Thursday, May 15, to call attention to this serious problem–and to demand that Gov. Jerry Brown address it in his budget.

Gov. Jerry Brown campaigned on promises to restore funding to public services. SEIU 1021 endorsed him and campaigned for both him and his initiative, Prop 30. However, he seems to have forgotten people with developmental disabilities. His current budget proposals do nothing to restore funding to a system that has endured over $1 billion in cuts and is underfunded by over 30% annually.

All individuals in California with developmental disabilities (DD) such as autism, cerebral palsy and cognitive disabilities are guaranteed access to services to help them lead full, productive lives in the community through the Lanterman Act of 1969.

A network of 21 nonprofit Regional Centers, funded by the state and federal grants, connects these individuals and their families with the services best suited to their needs, and pays the service provider agencies for those services.

Three decades of direct funding cuts accompanied by unfunded mandates have resulted in a system that can no longer afford to recruit and retain qualified service providers or case managers and that cannot afford to meet mandated staffing ratios. This severe underfunding has not only caused unmanageable case loads, wait lists for services and deterioration of the quality of services, it has also jeopardized federal grants the system depends upon just to stay afloat.

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Hundreds of SEIU 1021 Members Mark Tax Day with Protest of Weakening of Vital Services

Over 1000 city workers, nonprofit workers and community allies rallied at City Hall, marched to Twitter and then returned to City Hall on April 15.

Over 1000 city workers, nonprofit workers and community allies rallied at City Hall, marched to Twitter and then returned to City Hall on April 15.

Over 1,000 San Francisco City workers, nonprofit workers and residents marked Tax Day on April 15 with a major protest of the weakening of vital social services and of the increase in income inequality in the City under Mayor Lee’s economic initiatives.

As part of the protest, 24 persons were arrested at San Francisco City Hall for performing acts of civil disobedience.

Prior to the arrests, protestors marched along the Mid-Market corridor, passing by the corporations that have enjoyed hundreds of millions of dollars in tax giveaways under Mayor Lee, with a stop in front of Twitter headquarters.  The march ended with a rally at City Hall.

Protestors cited significant funding problems for vital services such as 911 dispatch and San Francisco General Hospital as a direct result of the giveaway of hundreds of millions in City revenue to wealthy corporations.  The undermining of these services hurts working families in San Francisco already struggling with the problem of economic inequality.   Working and poor people are now being pushed out of the City in record numbers due to evictions, rising cost of living, and unaffordable housing.

“Mayor Lee’s San Francisco just doesn’t work for a lot of San Franciscans anymore,” said Larry Bradshaw, a paramedic and Vice President of SEIU 1021, who was among those arrested for civil disobedience.  “We see the results of Mayor Lee’s tax policy: more inequality for working people and less safe healthcare for everyone.”

The protest follows significant patient safety concerns raised by caregivers at two San Francisco institutions earlier this month.

Registered nurses and caregivers earlier this month decried the patient care problems caused by under-funding of the public health and under-staffing of nurses.  They reported that were no shifts in the year 2013—exactly zero—with adequate numbers of nurses and other caregivers at the San Francisco General Emergency Room. On every single shift, the City violated its own safe-staffing guidelines, as well as California’s staffing ratios.  Patient outcomes directly suffer when they do not have adequate access to a nurse.  The situation is so dire that patients may not even have access to the Emergency Room at San Francisco General.  In 2013, for at least part of every single day, patients were diverted away from the ER due to a lack of staffing.

“There is a culture of chaos at San Francisco General and in the way nurses are managed,” said Dan Merier, RN, who works at SF General.  “Patient outcomes are suffering.  We need to fully fund and fully staff our hospitals.  Any one of us could end up in the ER at any time.”

9-1-1 dispatchers at the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management criticized a culture of delay for emergency calls in the City, noting that California law requires 90 percent of all emergency calls to be answered within 10 seconds.  Due to City under-funding, only 60 per cent of emergency calls in San Francisco are answered within 10 seconds.

“When you call 911, there should be operators to take your call,” said Ron Davis, who has been an emergency dispatcher in San Francisco for 13 years. “We just can’t wait 30 seconds, 45 seconds, or longer for a life-threatening emergency.  San Francisco needs a safe and efficient emergency system for our patients.”

SEIU 1021 has also filed a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage in the City for all workers to $15 per hour by 2017. This is a key plank in SEIU 1021’s larger program to reduce economic inequality in the City, along with housing, healthcare, and transportation.

See our press coverage here:

SF Chronicle (Front page): “S.F. tax-day protest marches on Twitter”

SF Examiner: “Mayor’s San Francisco doesn’t work for everyone”
Op-ed by SEIU 1021 VP Larry Bradshaw


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Action Alert: Tax Day Mega-Rally & March TUESDAY, APRIL 15!

SF rally for website 2

Working families are being pushed out of San Francisco at record rates.  Those that remain struggle with an ever-higher cost of living.  Mayor  Lee’s San Francisco doesn’t work for a lot of us.

That’s why SEIU 1021 filed a ballot initiative last week raising the minimum wage to $15 for all San Franciscans by 2017. It’s part of our larger platform to tackle economic inequality in the City.  That includes wages, housing, healthcare, and transportation.

It includes fair pay for the city’s own workers – and enough staffing to keep San Franciscans healthy and safe. But economic inequality is the defining issue of our time, and it’s bigger than just one labor contract.

JOIN US TUESDAY, APRIL 15, at 4 PM for a rally outside City Hall. We will then march to Twitter to demand they forgo their $56 million tax break. The City needs the revenue to fund the important community services our members working for the City and County and for city-contracted nonprofits provide, and to fund reasonable wages that keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living in the Bay Area.

Economic inequality is the issue of our times. It is time for City Hall and Mayor Lee to come stand with us in our fight to make San Francisco livable for everyone.


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Notice of SF City-Wide Bargaining Team Elections (Oct. – Dec. 2013)

Dear SF City Wide members:

The current contract between SEIU 1021 Citywide and the City & County of San Francisco expires June 30, 2014. Our first deadline is to complete Bargaining Team elections by Dec. 9.

Nominate yourself or someone you know in your chapter that will represent your values during 2014 bargaining. Download the Election Notice and submit a nomination form.

Nominations must be faxed to Tiya Thlang at (415) 431-6241 or emailed to Tiya.Thlang@seiu1021.org. Nominations must be received by October 25, 5PM.

Download here:  SF City Wide Bargaining Team Election Notice (Oct.-Dec. 2013)

SF City Wide Bargaining Team Election Notice (Oct.-Dec 2013) SF City Wide Bargaining Team Election Notice

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Kaiser is gouging SF residents and employees; Kaiser is probably gouging others, too

Kaiser stop draining SF tax payer dollars!

Kaiser stop draining SF tax payer dollars!

(See event photos here: Kaiser stop draining San Francisco tax payer dollars)

Dear SEIU 1021 members:

SEIU Local 1021 is committed to maintaining both Kaiser and Blue Shield as healthcare options for our members. We are also committed to keeping healthcare affordable for our members and will oppose unwarranted and unjustified rate increases by any healthcare insurance provider.

Our union has taken on the fight for more affordable healthcare.

In San Francisco, we are challenging Kaiser’s rate increase, which would gouge San Francisco for an additional $15 Million — despite the fact that Kaiser patients are healthier and require fewer services. Kaiser has so far refused to justify this rate increase.

From 2010- 2012, Kaiser has charged HSS $87 million more than it actually cost to provide services.  That’s a 13% percent profit margin, far above the Blue Shield two percent profit pledge.  Now, Kaiser demands an additional $15 million dollars for 2014 that they refuse to justify.

While SEIU Local 1021 members and SF residents struggled and made sacrifices to get through the recession, Kaiser banked over $2 billion in profits last year. That’s billions in profits while union members, taxpayers, and residents suffered cuts in wages, benefits, and city services.

We ponder:  If Kaiser and other healthcare insurers are gouging city employees, it is likely they are gouging all of us. In SF, we’re fighting for a solution to runaway health costs for everyone. Transparency is the first step.

Here are two things you can do for a more affordable and transparent Kaiser:

• We need members to come to a full Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, July 23 at 2PM in room 250.

• Call Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson– 510-271-2659 –to demand that they negotiate in good faith and provide greater transparency in their rate setting, rebate $11 Million to the City for their unjustified rate increase, and withdraw their opposition to Senate Bill 746 that would establish Kaiser transparency.

In unity,

Larry Bradshaw, SEIU 1021 VP of San Francisco, Paramedic at the SF Fire Department and a Kaiser member for over 25 years

Karen Joubert, SEIU 1021 VP of Representation working at Laguna Honda Hospital and a Kaiser member for over 49 years.

PS.  Read more about the unjustified Kaiser rate increase here:

SF Chronicle: Rate increase creates criticism of Kaiser


CBS San Francisco: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/07/11/sf-supes-urged-to-refuse-to-kaiser-rate-increase-for-city-workers/

SF Examiner: http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/city-mulling-health-insurance-options-as-kaiser-rates-increase/Content?oid=2507080

SF Chronicle: http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/S-F-Supes-panel-delays-vote-on-Kaiser-rate-4658217.php

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