Empty Scrubs Need to Be Filled, Say San Francisco Nurses

by Carl Finamore

San Francisco General Hospital Nurses assembled inside City Hall on May 20 after being locked out of the mayor’s office. The “empty scrubs,” represent the nursing jobs that need to be filled at their hospital. The missing staff means danger for patients. Photo: SEIU 1021 - See more at: http://labornotes.org/2014/05/empty-scrubs-need-be-filled-say-san-francisco-nurses#sthash.85dwIodz.dpuf

San Francisco General Hospital Nurses assembled inside City Hall on May 20 after being locked out of the mayor’s office. The “empty scrubs,” represent the nursing jobs that need to be filled at their hospital. The missing staff means danger for patients. Photo: SEIU 1021

“It’s locked!” Norlissa Cooper exclaimed incredulously to a contingent of several dozen other nurses from San Francisco General Hospital. The nurses were attempting to open Mayor Ed Lee’s office door May 20 to discuss with him the critically high staffing shortages at their hospital.

The premier public hospital has the city’s busiest emergency room and its only Level 1 Trauma Center, which is supposed to provide the highest level of care. Overall, it serves some 100,000 patients each year, providing 20 percent of the city’s inpatient care.

And yet it’s “severely understaffed and our patients severely underserved,” says Lorraine Thiebaud, a nurse for 40 years and RN chapter president in Service Employees Local 1021.

The union will vote in early June whether to strike over the staffing violations. Their contract expires June 30<

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Healthcare Costs Go Viral: Emergency Declared by San Francisco Labor

by Carl Finamore

finamore_healthemerIt’s a national epidemic finally getting some long overdue attention. To put rising costs in perspective, a dozen oranges today would cost $134 if adjusted at the same rate of price inflation that we’ve seen in healthcare since 1945.

And, it’s only getting worse. California health insurance premiums soared 185% since 2002. But we’ve heard these complaints before, it’s not new.

What is new is that the largest unions in San Francisco are doing something to reign in price gouging by insurers like California-based Kaiser Permanente, the nation’s largest HMO with 9.1 million subscribers.

For UNITE-HERE Local 2, one of the city’s largest unions representing 13,000 employees of restaurants and hotels in and around San Francisco, it has become a necessity. Continue reading

Rejecting Stern Appointees, SEIU 1021 Members Give Reformers Election Sweep

by Randy Shaw

SEIU 1021 Officers newly elected

In a striking blow to SEIU’s national leadership, the reform “Change 1021” slate defeated Stern appointees and won all of the major offices and near total control of the Executive Board. It was the first election since SEIU’s International Executive Board merged ten California locals into one three years ago, creating one of the union’s largest primarily public employee locals. Longtime SEIU reformer Roxanne Sanchez won the top position of President in a landslide (3054-1458), Sin Yee Poon defeated Stern appointee Damita Davis-Howard 2141 to 1445 for the key position of Chief Elected Officer (akin to Executive Director), and controversial incumbent James Bryant was defeated by Alysabeth Alexander for Political Action Chair.

The one-sided outcome follows staggering SEIU defeats at Santa Rosa Memorial and Kaiser Sunset Hospitals, and reflects growing worker opposition to SEIU’s increasingly top-down, undemocratic approach. SEIU 1021 will now become part of the growing movement toward more democratic unionism in California, joining UNITE HERE, NUHW and other unions in promoting this trend. As Sanchez put it after the victory, “workers will now have real power in this organization that they did not have before.”
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