300 Tenderloin Housing Clinic workers stage a powerful 24-hour strike
Read about our strike in the San Francisco Chronicle and KQED.
Last Wednesday, nearly 300 workers at the Tenderloin Housing Clinic (THC) went out on a 24-hour strike as efforts to secure a new contract with management continue to drag on. Workers have been struggling with years of turnover, burnout, and short-staffing—all fueled by woefully inadequate compensation. As inflation and cost of living in San Francisco continue to climb, workers executed a first-of-its-kind strike at a supportive housing nonprofit.
THC staff do critical work to keep San Francisco’s homelessness and supportive housing system functioning. They work as desk clerks, janitors, case managers, maintenance staff, and more at 24 of the city’s single-room occupancy hotels (SROs).
“We’re disappointed that it’s come to this point, but we have seen a lack of urgency from management to address the causes of burnout and turnover, which is well within their power. At the same time, we’re still awaiting clarity from the City and County and Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing around proposed funding for badly-needed wage increases,” said Evan Oravec, a community organizer at THC and the SEIU 1021 chapter president.
“A budget is a moral document, and how San Francisco allocates its resources tells us a lot about the priorities of our elected leaders. Improving our homelessness and supportive housing system starts with investing in the people delivering those services at every level—not only the case managers, but the desk clerks, janitors, and beyond.”
Negotiations got off to a rocky start. THC made a number of proposals aimed at undermining their employees’ union rather than addressing workplace issues. After a series of informational pickets and a delegation to management, those proposals were taken off the table; but management still failed to give adequate responses to the issues being brought by workers.
Workers say two things need to happen. First, THC Executive Director Randy Shaw and THC management must be transparent with their finances and address staff proposals to improve employee mental health, burnout, and turnover—all of which have an impact on resident services. Second, because THC receives its funding from the City and County, workers are calling on elected leaders to allocate enough money to address wage compaction and provide meaningful wage increases for the entire workforce.
The workers’ positions are supported by a May 2022 report from the Office of the City Controller, which found that “low wage levels have led to difficulty hiring and high turnover, impacting client services and service provider stability. Gaps in staffing can create unsafe environments for participants and staff. Absent action, these challenges will continue to impact service levels, may create unsafe conditions and are likely to impede the implementation of major adopted enhancements, including for homeless services and childcare programs.”
The 24-hour strike might be over, but our fight for livable wages and a sustainable working environment rolls on. Workers expect to be back at the bargaining table soon.