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Mission Neighborhood Health Center nurses join NUHW


A year after joining Mission Neighborhood Health Center’s Shotwell Clinic in San Francisco, Registered Nurse Vanessa Garcia was overwhelmed by workplace issues that never got resolved.

“We had no breaks; we were not being paid for overtime,” said the San Francisco native. “We were being asked to do certain tasks without the proper training. I thought we were put in an unsafe position for patients and nurses.”

When Garcia and her colleagues brought these concerns to their supervisor, nothing would come of it. 

“It was either dismissed or we were gaslighted,” she said.

 With no solution in sight, Garcia and her seven fellow RNs decided to join NUHW, the same union as 70 of their colleagues, who have demonstrated their ability to collectively stand up for their rights and challenge bad managers.  

Earlier this month, the nurses won a card check election at the nonprofit that provides affordable health care to mostly Spanish-speaking, low-income immigrant families in San Francisco. 

“This gives us more power through numbers,” Garcia said of being in the same union as the center’s medical assistants, pharmacy techs, and support staff.

Atop the list of priorities is improving wages and winning more time for administrative tasks, like making notes in patient charts.

 “There’s a lot of things that nurses do behind the scenes. Not all of us have time to do all that,” Garcia said. “You go from one patient to the next and it’s hard to accomplish that sometimes. We get behind and we don’t get overtime.”

Garcia, who’s been doing the work of two nurses since one of her colleagues resigned, added that improving conditions for nurses will encourage them to stay at the community health center and help the center attract more nurses to provide more timely care.

“We have people apply, but they withdraw their application or find a better place,” Garcia said. “With us being unionized and negotiating for something better, that will incentivize other nurses to work at our health center.”

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