SF Filipino health care workers rally for better wages

By Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

April 10, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO – Filipinos joined about a hundred healthcare workers who turned out on their lunch breaks at Laguna Honda Hospital yesterday to call for better wages and benefits.

Since 2008, about 1,500 healthcare workers and office staff paid by the city of San Francisco lost 25 percent of their annual wages because of budget cuts.

Their union SIEU says it’s about time those lost wages are restored.

Julia Rosaroso, a certified nursing assistant, was among those who lost thousands of dollars in wages.

She says it’s been tough especially that she’s a single mom. She has had to work overtime hours so she could pay her bills and support her children.

She says she’s not alone in this struggle.

“There are 90 percent Filipinos at this hospital who really work hard, who serve and care about the residents here at Laguna Honda Hospital,” Rosaroso said.

Led by their union, SEIU LOCAL 1021, the nurses claim they are not only underpaid –they are short-staffed.

They also want the city to provide them with affordable healthcare coverage.

They said Mayor Ed Lee should stop giving away $56 million in tax breaks to companies like Google and Twitter and focus on helping struggling city workers like them.

On April 15, these nurses and other workers will meet at San Francisco City Hall at 4 p.m. to march to Twitter headquarters and demand that they pay city taxes just like everyone else.

“I’m just hoping the city could hear this because we run the city. We are the city public workers. We are paying taxes. There are rich people making a lot of money not paying fair taxes,” Rosaroso said.

They are also protesting to end the use of “as-needed or temporary” workers.

Filipina union leader Flora Hester heads the bargaining process.

“Our contract is going to expire this June and now we are fighting for the new contract but i guess we are not getting anything because the city wants to take everything away from us,” Hester said.

In response to the workers’ protest the San Francisco Department of Human Resources, which is negotiating with SEIU, argues that city workers are well-compensated.

San Francisco says the average city worker earns a base wage of $89,000 compared to the average San Franciscan’s base wage of about $62,000.

San Francisco’s HR Department adds that its workers have excellent health care packages where the city pays 93 percent.

The HR Department also says that tax breaks for corporations only amounted to $14 million in 2012.

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