SEIU 1021

As the Coronavirus Threat Looms, Registered Nurses, Healthcare Workers Fight To Protect San Francisco


On March 5, hundreds of public healthcare workers rallied at a press conference and testified at a hearing at SF City Hall. Registered nurses, doctors, social workers urged the Board of Supervisors to boost staffing and provide safer working conditions at San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH) facilities.

Workers made their case: San Francisco needs more registered nurses and support staff, expedite hiring, more violence and disaster training, and include workers in decisions affecting their work. 

“SFGH and other DPH facilities are chronically understaffed and have been critically understaffed for years. This is not new. We’re not saying this because of the Coronavirus, we’re saying that the city spent years being irresponsible and not ensuring that there was adequate staffing. And so we’re on the verge of a pandemic and we have no proper staffing. We are not ready,” said Theresa Rutherford, SEIU 1021 SF VP.

The impact was immediate.  The Board of Supervisors pressed DPH officials to resolve our issues as the threat of the Coronavirus loomed.

Supervisor Ahsha Safaí called on public health administrators to speed up the hiring process to as short as 30 days.  

During our public statements we made our opposition clear to Mayor London Breed’s 3.5 percent budget cut demand across all city departments.

“The mayor has stated very clearly in her budget plan that she wants to re-prioritize funds,” said Jennifer Esteen, SEIU 1021 VP of Organizing. “She said she wants to be responsive to residents to support city workers who are out there trying to make a difference and yet 3.5 percent budget cuts had been suggested.”

In the end, we were clear– we fighting for our patients.

“It’s about making sure that we have the resources, we have the training, we have that skill sets so comfortably ingrained that when you show up at the door, the focus is all about you,” said Heather Bollinger, ER nurse at SF General Hospital.