Thousands of San Francisco City Workers Rally to Protect Public Services as Contract Negotiations Begin
In light of last summer’s PERB ruling that the SF City Charter cannot prohibit strikes, City workers are gearing up to do whatever necessary to protect the critical services they provide
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jennie Smith-Camejo, firstname.lastname@example.org, (510) 710-0201
Luke Thibault, email@example.com, (760) 534-9958
(San Francisco, CA) — On Wednesday, January 17th, over 2,500 San Francisco city workers represented by multiple unions flooded the steps of City Hall, spilling out onto Polk Street and the plaza. Energy and spirits were high, but the tone and message to City Hall were nonetheless serious: San Francisco needs public services more than ever, and they need to be public.
Photos by Brooke Anderson (please credit).
“We have extremely high vacancy rates in departments and classifications that are critical to public safety, like 911 dispatch, registered nurses, social workers who connect unhoused people with services, and health workers who provide mental health and substance abuse treatment,” said Kristin Hardy (she/her), SEIU 1021 San Francisco Vice President. “The City is wasting millions upon millions of dollars to outsource public services to companies outside of SF with very little oversight or accountability.”
“We are fed up with doing the jobs of two or three people and watching our communities struggle to get by with fewer services year after year.” said Bianca Polovina (they/them), IFPTE Local 21 President. “The vision for our shared future is simple: It’s excellent public services, which we all deserve.”
“It’s very, very simple. If you want the City to work, let’s go to the people who have been keeping the City working.” said Supervisor Connie Chan (SFBOS Budget Chair), “We can balance this budget, we can tackle this deficit, and not on the backs of our workers.”
“This is our fight together,” said Larry Mazzola, Jr. (he/him), SF Building and Construction Trades Council President. “We’re going to demand at the bargaining table that they recognize our city workers, and that they don’t forget about our city workers.”
“The City is threatening corporate tax giveaways and devastating service cuts to communities of color at a time when we need services most,” said Shaw San Liu (she/her), Executive Director at the Chinese Progressive Association.
The City and County of San Francisco has awarded on average $6.2 billion in contracts every year since 2017, much of it for work that could be done more cost effectively and with more accountability and oversight by permanent public employees. Mayor London Breed has asked for cuts to all departments, but so far, only 6% of those cuts have been to private contractors. Most cuts have been to vacant positions that desperately need to be filled to address public safety concerns and rebuild a vibrant San Francisco.
City workers in attendance were adamant in their demands to staff up, protect public services, and keep them public. They were also very clear about what will happen if City Hall doesn’t get the message. As SEIU 1021 VP Kristin Hardy said at the end of the rally: “Nobody wants to go on strike, but there are things worth fighting for, and all of us here are willing to fight to protect and improve this City.”
In attendance were City and County of San Francisco employees represented by SEIU 1021, IFPTE Local 21, Teamsters 856, IBEW Local 6, UA Local 38, IATSE Local 16, SMW Local 104, Laborers’ Local 261, Stationary Engineers Local 39, TWU Local 250-A.
The Public Employee Committee of the San Francisco Labor Council brings together over 30,000 dedicated public service workers among 26 unions.