SEIU 1021

San Francisco is engaged in rampant understaffing and wage theft of frontline healthcare workers. We’re suing to put an end to it.

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Missed our November 24 webinar and Q&A discussing our lawsuit? You can click here to watch a recording of it and hear what SEIU 1021 member leaders and our legal counsel had to say.

Have a question about our lawsuit? Click here to submit it and someone will follow up with you directly.

OVERVIEW

We have sued the City & County of San Francisco’s Department of Public Health over violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The lawsuit being brought by our union is Kristen Silloway, et al. v. City and County of San Francisco. You must click here and fill out the necessary forms to opt in to our lawsuit.

When a civil service RN works beyond their FTE, the additional hours are paid as P103 hours at time and a quarter. This is fine, except when a dual status RN works beyond 8 hours in a day when they’re on 80 hour, 14 day pay periods, or after working over 40 hours in a 7 day week for dual status RNs with 7 day pay periods.

Federal law requires that dual-status RNs should receive overtime pay at time and a half in these instances. Instead, they’re being paid P103 rates, saving the City millions of dollars and hiding the extent of understaffing in DPH from public oversight. 

This is wage theft, plain and simple. In response, we have filed this lawsuit.

We estimate that on average 90,000 hours of overtime have gone unpaid every year, and that DPH is using this wage theft to hide just how understaffed we are. We filed suit to correct these issues.

If you’re a registered nurse in San Francisco and believe you may be affected, please contact Nato.Green@seiu1021.org and Jennifer.Esteen@seiu1021.org. Please also bookmark seiu1021.org/lawsuit and keep an eye on your email for future updates.

“When someone in our community is ill, they rely on our skilled care and attention to get better. Rather than guarantee safe, appropriate staffing levels, DPH is playing games and trying to cheat, borrow, and steal hours anywhere they can. As a result, nurses are working longer and longer hours, including mandatory overtime, to cover staffing holes in the schedules. We’re exhausted and drained, and people are leaving and retiring as a result. We’re losing skilled, dedicated, qualified nurses every week in the midst of a pandemic,” said Dianna Yañez, RN –  Labor and Delivery at SF General Hospital.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the timeline for this lawsuit? 

The extent of the violation was revealed during negotiations in 2019. Since then, we’ve conferred with legal counsel, Chapter leaders, stewards, and more to hold meetings and plot the best course forward. We’ll continue to do so. This issue will not be resolved overnight, and could even take as long as a few years to reach resolution.

What are we hoping to achieve with this lawsuit?

The solution to understaffing is not to have nurses working four or five twelve-hour shifts each week. That is dangerous for patients staff and it results in nurses burning out, leaving for other jobs, or retiring. DPH needs to hire an adequate number of nurses to meet the needs of our patients and they need to pay nurses fairly and adequately. 

How could the lawsuit impact dual status nurses?

The people impacted by this wage theft must be made whole. Dual status nurses who worked beyond 80 hours in a pay period are legally owed time and a half but had that overtime misclassified as P103 hours and instead paid time and a quarter. Management needs to rectify this moving forward while also providing back pay to the affected nurses who received time and a quarter when they deserve time and a half.

To qualify for compensation, impacted nurses must opt in to the lawsuit here.

Could Rule 29 hours be impacted or taken away?

No. Rule 29 is a negotiated provision of our contract. It will not be impacted by this lawsuit and cannot be changed unilaterally by management. Changes to Rule 29 would need to be bargained and ratified by our members. Thus, regardless of the status of our lawsuit, if you continue to volunteer for scheduled Rule 29 overtime, you’ll be paid accordingly.

How does this impact the new overtime contract language we won?

The new language deals with daily overtime, the lawsuit deals with weekly overtime. After bargaining in 2019, we continued negotiations on overtime, which ultimately resulted in an agreement that took effect July 1. The new language covers daily overtime. The goal of this language was to address the widespread problem of managers offering overtime only to have payroll take it away. Now, nurses will be paid time and a half for hours worked in excess of 12 in a day, for extra time worked as a result of missed breaks, and for mandatory overtime. Full-time eight-hour nurses will also receive overtime for hours in excess of eight in a day. In addition, public health nurses now receive overtime instead of comp time. 

What are the next steps?

Impacted nurses should sign up for our lawsuit here. Ultimately, we as a union will need to decide what our approach to finding a solution to this problem looks like. We’ll need the input of everyone as this process unfolds.

What is the name of the lawsuit and how do I opt in? What about the other lawsuit?

The lawsuit being brought by our union is Kristen Silloway, et al. v. City and County of San Francisco. Our union and our members are being represented by Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld, the union-side law firm that has represented us aggressively for decades and collectively has more than a century of experience specializing in worker advocacy and protection. This firm works closely with SEIU 1021 across Northern California, as well as with other unions all over the state, and understands the work and challenges faced by  our members.

In the coming weeks, we will begin circulating opt in forms both physically and digitally. Keep checking back here for more information. Be sure to verify the name of our lawsuit and whether a notice is on union letterhead before opting in.

You may have been approached by a private law firm on this matter, but be aware that this firm does not represent our members and has never represented us in any of our fights with the employer. It’s also important to know that you cannot receive double recovery for the same issue—meaning you cannot opt in to both suits to receive both settlements. 

If you opt in to the other lawsuit instead of the one being brought by our union, and they settle for less than we do, you will not be entitled to whatever our union is able to win. It is our recommendation that members only opt into the lawsuit being brought by SEIU Local 1021, as we have the experience, expertise, and understanding of our contract and relationship to our entire membership needed to ensure the best outcome—both in terms of any back pay as well as any changes the City may need to implement to comply with the law in the future.

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OPT IN TO OUR LAWSUIT

The lawsuit being brought by our union is Kristen Silloway, et al. v. City and County of San Francisco. You must click here and fill out the necessary forms to opt in to our lawsuit.

Our union and our members are being represented by Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld, the union-side law firm that has represented us aggressively for decades and collectively has more than a century of experience specializing in worker advocacy and protection. This firm works closely with SEIU 1021 across Northern California, as well as with other unions all over the state, and understands the work and challenges faced by our members.

You may have been approached by a private law firm on this matter, but be aware that this firm does not represent our members and has never represented us in any of our fights with the employer. It’s also important to know that you cannot receive double recovery for the same issue—meaning you cannot opt in to both suits to receive both settlements. 

If you opt in to the other lawsuit instead of the one being brought by our union, and they settle for less than we do, you will not be entitled to whatever our union is able to win. It is our recommendation that members only opt into the lawsuit being brought by SEIU Local 1021, as we have the experience, expertise, and understanding of our contract and relationship to our entire membership needed to ensure the best outcome—both in terms of any back pay as well as any changes the City may need to implement to comply with the law in the future.

Click here to opt in to our lawsuit.

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PRESS COVERAGE

Check us out in the news:

​CBS SF Bay Area: San Francisco Nurses Sue Department Of Public Health Over Understaffing, Unpaid OT

SF Chronicle: Nurses demand overtime pay in lawsuit against San Francisco; union claims 90,000 hours of work unpaid

SF Examiner: Nurses sue city health department over understaffing, unpaid overtime

Mission Local: SF General Hospital Nurses sue Health Department for alleged wage theft

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