SEIU 1021

SF Department of Public Health members speak out against budget cuts & contracting out at Health Commission meeting
Members pointed out that DPH's current approach to staffing is dangerous and not cost-effective


Tuesday, February 6, SEIU 1021 members who work for the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) attended the monthly Health Commission meeting as DPH Chief Financial Officer Jenny Louie presented a budget proposal for fiscal years 24-25 and 25-26. To meet Mayor London Breed’s request for all City departments to cut their budgets by 10%, the budget proposal focuses on eliminating vacant positions and further contracting out.

The Health Commission heard compelling public comment from SEIU 1021 member Megan Green, who has been a registered nurse at San Francisco General Hospital (SFGH) for over 10 years and works in the original HIV/AIDS unit (now also oncology). She shared some dire statistics about what has been happening at SFGH–which has big impacts on patients.

“In my unit alone, last year from February 22 through October, we missed 4,795 rest breaks. We missed 511 meal breaks. There were 2,000 missed breaks in labor and delivery. We filed a grievance and it went to arbitration. Every single one of those FTEs were filled, or if they weren’t filled, they were filled with travelers, and people were still missing breaks. No new FTEs were added to the budget.

“Three is the number of months that my department, Med-Surg, has been under the budgeted number of beds. $169,748,074 is how much money has already been used in registry staff—and that money was supposed to last until next summer. $100 million is the amount they asked of this civil service commission for more registry.

“I was working last Christmas with a nurse who was netting what I make in six shifts, she was making in two. And of course, they take that money and they go back to their city and they invest it in their city. Our staff did 356,019.9 hours of overtime. I am a .9 employee; I work 1872 hours a year. If you take that 356,000 [number], that’s [the work of] 190 people we did just in overtime.

“I’m just not sure where these cuts come from. It’s very concerning. We make 12-18% less by the city’s own data than other neighboring hospitals. We can’t retain staff. It costs $88,000 to train a new grad. We hire tons of new grads, they get their training, and then they go to UC and Kaiser and they go to Sutter. And my tax dollars and everyone’s tax dollars go to train those nurses at that hospital.”

In short, instead of filling its vacant positions with badly-needed full-time staff, DPH is spending more money on “travelers” and “registry staff” — nurses brought in from out of town on a temporary basis, under contract with private agencies. These nurses are not prepared for SFGH patients, cannot perform all the functions of full-time nurses, and cost the City more as they must pay them higher wages while also paying the agency providing them.

SEIU 1021 SF DPH members are taking a stand against this ineffective, inefficient way of operating that is dangerous for patients and detrimental to the well-being of nurses. They will be rallying outside of SFGH this Friday, February 16, at 12 p.m., calling on DPH to staff up and stop contracting out what should be permanent, full-time work. Live and/or work in San Francisco? Join them on your lunch break! See the flyer below and RSVP here.