Nurses March into Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Health Commission Meeting

Find out how unionized nurses in San Francisco are making their feelings about this exact issue known in significant ways. Nurses Union News


  • Workforce Development Columnist
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Nurses March into Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Health Commission Meeting

Health Commission meetings are generally not too exciting. However, a session held at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on May 28th was full of energy when nearly 150 nurses strode in to make their concerns known. The commission is in current contract negotiations with the close to 2,100 unionized nurses across the city. Without an agreement, a possible strike is on the horizon, set for July 1st. The commission believed they have met the nurses’ needs and felt satisfied with an offer they placed on the table during a May 24th meeting.

However, the description provided by The Mission Local, about the May 28th meeting left us thinking of many words other than satisfied to describe the nurses. Aaron Cramer, a cardiac catheterization lab nurse, shouted, “We are chronically understaffed” in the meeting. He made the only public comment during the meeting, which he followed by telling the commission that he held a petition of no confidence with the Department of Public Health with over 1,300 nurses’ signatures.

Cramer then began reading the list of signatures as other nurses chanted, “safe staffing now.” The cardiac cath nurse was about 15 minutes into reading the names on the petition when the health commissioners picked up their belongings and left the room. The nurses were attempting to provide a clear picture to the commission of what an actual strike would look like if a mutually agreed upon contract isn’t found soon.

Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital isn’t new to being in the press. Earlier this month, several current and former nurses protested the Zuckerberg name change that happened in 2015 after a $75 million donation from Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. The name change was approved by the Board of Supervisors shortly after the donation was made. However, some nurses feel that the 147-year-old hospital shouldn’t be named after Zuckerberg due to privacy issues that faced Mark’s company, Facebook.

Today, the hospital is under scrutiny related to a chronic state of understaffing. While the commissioners report that the nurse staffing levels of the hospital are safe and in compliance with codes, they failed to comment further on the issue. This claim is that 40 percent of all nursing hours are assigned and completed by per diem staff. The Mission Local tracked down the financials and were able to confirm that since 2016, the Department of Public Health has far surpassed their budgeted dollars for per diem nurses.

For the fiscal year 2016-17, the department paid out $58.4 million in wages for per diem nursing staff. This far outreached the budget for the same year of $16.9 million. The following year, 2017-18 was a similar story with $17.3 million budgeted and $62.3 million spent. For the current fiscal year 2018-19, the department has spent near twice the amount they budgeted for per diem staff nurses for the entire year while they are only seven months into the period. They have spent $34.3 million to date.

As tempers rise, the idea of a striking seems to be looming on the horizon. The unionized workers allege that hospital administration won’t add more full-time positions, but in the light of the numbers above, it might seem that the commission isn’t making fiscally sound decisions regarding the issue.

How do you feel? Should the nurses strike? Does the Department of Public Health have it all wrong and should shift their budgeted dollars from per diem nurses to full-time staff? And, if they do, who would want to work in a facility with this current reputation? Would you?

Let us know by commenting below.

Workforce Development Columnist

Melissa is a professor, medical writer, and business owner. She has been a nurse for over 20 years and enjoys combining her nursing knowledge and passion for the written word. She is available for writing, editing, and coaching services. You can see more of her work at

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OUxPhys, BSN, RN

1,203 Posts

Specializes in Cardiology.

Yes. What better state to strike in than California?

Specializes in Maternity & newborn.

Yikes. Is this why there are so many high-paying travel nursing jobs here?

If reasoning together hasn't worked, if people deciding about staffing have little or no clue about the realities of today's health care situation, if they turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the input from those who actually work the front lines, then Strike On.

Inform the public, too, as to why you are striking. They have got to get behind you.


1 Article; 199 Posts

Per diem nursing is a staffing by vending machine model. Tap a button, and a nurse appears. These are "on call" nurses who collect no benefits of any kind. If they actually had to play by the rules and hire full time staff, the costs would rise. Nothing is going to move healthcare in the right direction while corporations own the entire system. Take corporations out of healthcare, and you will see positive change. Staffing to acuity is what we need. When doctors are forced to stop ordering worthless meds, treatments, tests and services, things will change for the better.

Specializes in PICU, Pediatrics, Trauma.

Obviously, these nurses are suffering the same as most others these days with being forced to do more with less. This is an excellent hospital with a great reputation for many specialties including trauma and HIV back in day when hardly any had knowledge of this disease. Had been and I believe still is (could be wrong) a county hospital who turned no one away and although not fancy, gave cutting edge care. They are a teaching hospital associated with UCSF. Need I say more?

No excuse for risking excellent care to save a dollar. I don’t care what the budget is. NOT WORTH THE SACRIFICE. Not worth it anywhere, but really upset me to think they are jeopardizing their standards.

Specializes in PICU, Pediatrics, Trauma.

I would support these nurses 100%!

Specializes in PICU, Pediatrics, Trauma.

One more thing...I did clinicals there as a student a million years ago. We scrambled to find linen and the beds were from the Stone Age (a few things I remember) but we were able to find nurses and the help we needed without difficulty. I remember for those that didn’t mind working with those in the lower socioeconomic scale or specifically wanted to work with them, scrambled to get positions at “The General” for many reasons none the least was the amazing variety of cases you would see and the experience.

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