SEIU 1021

70% of SFDPH Nurses Report Physical Assault on the Job; Storm Health Commission Meeting to Warn of Possible Strike
As contract negotiations with SF Department of Public Health drag on and management stalls, nurses want to alert the public to the dangers of the staffing crisis - and to the possibility of a looming strike



Contact: Jennie Smith-Camejo,, (510) 710-0201; Ella Sogomonian,, (415) 686-5075

SEIU 1021, the SFDPH nurses’ union, recently surveyed members about their experiences with assault and abuse on the job. Ninety-nine percent of respondents reported having been abused or assaulted at work, with over 70% reporting physical assault, over 94% reporting verbal abuse, and 10% reporting sexual assault and/or harassment involving physical interaction. Thirty-eight percent of respondents reported having sustained injuries from these assaults. Over 60% of respondents report that they have been abused or assaulted at work more than 10 times. And over 60% report being expected or required to complete their shifts even after being assaulted.

Who: Registered nurses from SF General Hospital, Laguna Honda Hospital, and community clinics
What: SFDPH registered nurses storm SFDPH Health Commission meeting will deliver 2000 pages of “assignment despite objection” forms documenting unsafe working conditions; share stories of what unsafe conditions look like during public comment following several agenda items and during public comment
When: Tuesday, April 23, starting at 3 p.m.
Where: SFDPH Public Health Commission, 101 Grove St., room 220
(also can be viewed online; get link here:

Registered nurses working for San Francisco Department of Public Health at SF General Hospital, Laguna Honda Hospital, and community clinics have been sounding the alarm for months about how chronic, severe short staffing is endangering patients and staff alike. They have sought to address the staffing crisis through contract negotiations, which continue to drag on as management stalls and refuses to respond to the several dozen proposals they have made. They are warning that a strike authorization vote is looming if DPH management does not start seriously addressing their proposals to improve patient care. 

In the meantime, from the SFGH emergency department to Laguna Honda, nurses continue to face physical assault and verbal abuse, facilitated by short staffing that too often leaves them alone with unruly patients. 

Now, fed up with SFDPH management’s dismissive inaction, they are taking their case directly to the Health Commission.

“We went into nursing because we wanted to take care of people,” said Jennifer Esteen, SEIU 1021 Community RN chapter president. “Assault and abuse should not just be accepted as part of the job. Without adequate staffing, we are sitting ducks for abusive patients. This kind of staffing crisis is dangerous for patient care and it’s dangerous for us. The fact that DPH is just shrugging its shoulders and requesting tens of millions more per year for travel nurses rather than taking real action to get staffing to where it needs to be is demoralizing. If DPH management won’t listen to us, we hope the Health Commission will – and that they will push the City to fix this.

“We are still hoping to avoid having to go on strike, but by dragging their feet and refusing to address these major safety concerns, DPH is pushing us in that direction.”



SEIU Local 1021 represents nearly 60,000 employees in local governments, non-profit agencies, health care programs, and schools throughout Northern California, including seven private colleges and numerous community colleges. SEIU Local 1021 is a diverse, member-driven organization with members who work to make our cities, schools, colleges, counties, and special districts safe and healthy places to live and raise our families.