SEIU 1021

SF union members brave rain to get out the vote for Prop B
Dozens of volunteers came to the Prop B campaign kickoff, then hit the streets to get the word out to voters


On a rain-soaked Saturday morning last weekend, dozens of volunteers–many of them union members–came together in the Richmond district in San Francisco. They were in sneakers and jackets, ready to brave the elements to get the word out to voters: San Francisco needs Prop B for public safety.

“A few years ago, we started to realize we didn’t have enough 911 call operators,” said San Francisco District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safaì at the campaign kickoff. ”A few years ago, we realized we didn’t have enough nurses in the emergency room. That we didn’t have enough mental health workers. That we didn’t have enough police officers. Paramedics. Everyone involved in public safety.

“So there was a horrible plan that would have just taken money out of the general fund as a set-aside, and everyone would have suffered. We came together collectively and said, let’s find a funding source. At the same time, let’s realize San Franciscans want to be safe. We have to acknowledge we’re down officers, but we have to do it in a thoughtful and collective way that everyone can benefit from.” 

Safaì was referring to a bill introduced at the SF Board of Supervisors Rules Committee by District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey that would have taken as much as $300 million out of the general fund for police recruitment. Safaì successfully amended the legislation, which was approved by the full Board of Supervisors to appear on the March ballot, to require new funding or to repurpose existing funding streams to pay for the new police staffing initiatives.

Dorsey’s original measure would have taken funding away from other critical pieces of the public safety net, from 911 dispatch to public health nurses to social workers, at a time when the City is facing a projected $800 million budget shortfall.

“We are all part of the safety team. Dispatchers are the first responders answering the call that can save someone’s life,” said 911 dispatcher and president of the SEIU 1021 911 dispatch chapter Burt Wilson

“We work hand-in-hand with police, fire, and medical. And we need to stand together to improve staffing, invest in prevention and better respond to emergencies. As first responders, we support Prop B and a smarter public safety strategy.”

District 1 Supervisor Connie Chan agreed. “Let’s look at how to make people safe in a long-term, sustainable way that’s actually meaningful. It’s not just wait until the crime actually happens. It’s really how do you prevent that in the first place. That means it takes the whole city to work. Not just law enforcement, but also many of our first responders, working together, like Supervisor Safaì said.

“Our 911 dispatchers; firefighters play a role in this too, with the Street Crisis Response Team; our nurses; everybody along with our police officers working together as a system to ensure our city is safe.

“That’s really what Prop B is about. It’s saying, let’s do this in a fiscally responsible way, so that we don’t pit our first responders against each other. Let’s make sure they’re all funded and fully staffed. That’s what it takes to keep people safe. Prop B is a reasonable and logical and fiscally responsible measure to keep SF safe.”

Following the short program at the campaign kickoff, volunteers picked up their door hangers and flyers and hit the streets of the Richmond to get the word out to voters about why they should vote yes on Prop B in March.