SEIU 1021

Felton Institute workers and community rally to demand critical health and safety improvements and a fair contract
Management’s refusal to address ongoing safety concerns, negotiate a fair contract, and stop interfering with their employees’ union organizing efforts have workers and SF Supervisors furious


Last Thursday, August 10, at noon, Felton Institute workers and concerned community members rallied outside of the Felton Family Development Center to demand management address their ongoing concerns about the health and safety of staff and clients at Felton sites. They also presented a petition for these changes that has garnered hundreds of signatures.

Over 300 Felton workers, parents, and community members, including seven San Francisco Supervisors – Myrna Melgar, Joel Engardio, Connie Chan, Shamann Walton, Dean Preston, Hillary Ronen, and Catherine Stefani – have signed a petition created by workers demanding management prioritize health and safety at the social services nonprofit, which gets over $20 million in annual funding from the City and County of San Francisco.

The petition is in response to specific incidents, including a gas leak that has resulted in illness in staff and children, and a potentially dangerous event that left staff frightened and confused due to a lack of support from management and established safety protocols. The union’s request to meet with management about the issues and a request for information have gone unanswered even as the publicly-funded agency continues to commit unfair labor practices in contract negotiations and by interfering with its staff’s efforts to unionize.   

“The lack of communication from Felton has been an ongoing problem. We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to help keep our clients and ourselves healthy and safe. It’s hard to do that when we aren’t given the tools or support that we need,” said Felton Community Specialist Lauren Bodenlos.

In addition to allegations of unsafe working environments, Felton is currently facing eight unfair labor practice (ULP) charges with the National Labor Relations Board. Charges include bullying, harassing, and retaliating against staff for exercising their legal rights to participate in or form a union, despite a legally binding neutrality agreement with SEIU 1021, as well as unilaterally implementing a new wage scale last November.

In April, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors held a hearing to listen to numerous complaints regarding these unfair labor practices and more. The board unanimously berated Felton for their union busting, with Supervisor Myrna Melgar stating, “I am deeply disappointed that we have this situation. Part of the mission and the vision of Felton should be supporting workers, many of whom are women and people of color. I promise you we will be watching every contract that goes forward to the Board of Supervisors’ Budget Committee.”

Despite ample evidence to support workers’ claims, Felton continues to deny workers’ attempts to address these issues, sending misinformation to staff while resisting accountability and failing to implement a much-needed expansion of their health and safety protocols and training for staff.

Read more about the health and safety issues at Felton in this great story from KQED.