Registered Nurse and union activist Jennifer Esten protests understaffing at Zuckerberg S.F. General Hospital

Nurses in S.F. Department of Health Demand Thousands of Hours in Overtime Pay

During the pandemic, nurses have been given a lot of praise for the vital, frontline work they do, but some nurses working for San Francisco’s Department of Public Health would like to be paid the overtime they have put in. 

 In a lawsuit against the city, several nurses claim that due to chronic understaffing, the public health department  is forcing them to work overtime to cover the gap. They are demanding thousands of hours in back pay. 

Many public health facilities are feeling the strain during the pandemic, said Jennifer Esten, a registered nurse and vice president of organizing for SEIU Local 1021, which assisted the plaintiffs with their legal action. 

“Our med-surge beds are running at 112% capacity over the last three months,” she said. “So, we know that we have more patients coming in than we physically have beds for.”

The use of freelance nursing staff is making matters worse, Esten said. 

“Why are we relying on 40% of our staffing that is unreliable and unpredictable and can disappear at any moment?” she asked. “Because of this, our permanent nurses end up having a lot of hours that they also work extra.” 

Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital spokesman Brent Andrew told Mission Local that the city “does not believe S.F. General is understaffed and the nurses’ pay is consistent with the union contract.” 

Esten pointed to an agreement reached in July with the public health department that she expects to improve the overtime pay situation, adding that she hopes the lawsuit will help nurses recover overtime back pay and force the city to address understaffing at D.P.H. facilities. 

A segment from our radio show, “Civic.” Listen daily at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on 102.5 FM in San Francisco.

Jessica Lo Surdo, M.S. (foreground), a staff scientist at the Food and Drug Administration, studies chain reactions in stem cells in an FDA laboratory on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Md.

Insider Opposes $5.5 Billion State Bond to Fund Stem Cell Research

Proposition 14 asks California voters to approve a $5.5 billion bond to allow the institute to continue to provide grants for stem cell research, with the goal of creating new treatments for some of medicine’s most intractable problems. Jeff Sheehy has been a lonely voice on the board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where he stands in opposition to the state ballot measure that would fund the organization for years to come.

Jackie Fielder and Sen. Scott Wiener

State Senate Candidates Cite Fire, COVID-19 Recovery, Housing Among Priorities

“Civic” spoke with San Francisco candidates running for the state Legislature before the primary election on March 3. Since then, a great deal has happened, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent recession and the massive wildfires that have at times turned our skies orange. We are offering those original interviews as part of our election coverage, but wanted to give the candidates a chance to address what has happened since the primary. The candidates for State Senate in District 11 are Jackie Fielder and Sen. Scott Wiener.

John P. McDonnell and Assemblyman Phil Ting

State Assembly Candidates, District 19

“Civic” spoke with San Francisco candidates running for the state Legislature before the primary election on March 3. Since then, a great deal has happened, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent recession and the massive wildfires that have at times turned our skies orange. We are offering those original interviews as part of our election coverage, but wanted to give the candidates a chance to address what has happened since the primary. The candidates for State Assembly in District 19 are John P. McDonnell and Assemblyman Phil Ting.

Assemblyman David Chiu and Starchild are State Assembly candidates for District 17.

State Assembly Candidates, District 17

“Civic” spoke with San Francisco candidates running for the state Legislature before the primary election on March 3. Since then, a great deal has happened, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent recession and the massive wildfires that have at times turned our skies orange. We are offering those original interviews as part of our election coverage, but wanted to give the candidates a chance to address what has happened since the primary. Assemblymember David Chiu is running unopposed for the District 17 State Assembly seat.