SEIU 1021

On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, frontline Planned Parenthood workers say a union will strengthen their fight for reproductive freedom
Planned Parenthood Northern California Workers announced they have supermajority support for a union as demand for legal abortion has quadrupled since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving clinics short-staffed and overwhelmed


On Monday, January 22, the 51st anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, Planned Parenthood Northern California workers announced they have supermajority support to form a union with SEIU 1021.

Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision ended federal protection for abortion rights, demand at some California clinics has quadrupled. This is straining the ability of clinicians, nurses, administrative and support staff, and social workers to sustain the ever heavier workloads.

“With reproductive freedom under attack, California is a sanctuary for anyone seeking health care services. Planned Parenthood Northern California workers believe a union is the best way for workers to protect access to vital services in the face of surging demand, short staffing, and worker burnout,” said Nathan Diehl-Jensen, who has been a procurement specialist at PPNorCal for five years.

A supermajority of Planned Parenthood Northern California workers have signed union authorization cards and indicated they believe forming a union is the best way to address the short-staffing and scheduling issues that threaten their ability to protect access to legal abortions.

Debbie Nguyen, a clinician at Planned Parenthood Northern California, said, “I believe in unionizing because we consistently advocate for and care for our communities. We also deserve to have our needs met as active parts of the community. It’s the only way forward if our work is to be sustainable and far-reaching.”

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022, Planned Parenthood Northern California has experienced a 38% spike in demand for abortion services as a result of expanded hours and out-of-state patients traveling to California. However, clinics haven’t staffed up in the face of this staggering growth in demand, and workers are concerned that overwork and burnout will hurt access to patient care.

The workers leading the union organizing drive sent a letter to Planned Parenthood Northern California’s CEO and President, Gilda Gonzales, to announce their organizing campaign and ask that she voluntarily recognize the union and not interfere with union activities.

Workers are hopeful that she and the rest of the Planned Parenthood Northern California management team will support their unionization efforts to ensure that healthcare providers are set up for success and patients can continue receiving the best possible care.

They are encouraged by the progress of the growing movement to form unions at Planned Parenthood nationwide, including 550 recently unionized at Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest in Southern California in September.

You can follow their union organizing drive on Instagram here.