SF Pet Care Workers Form Union, Hold Rally
Guest Post by Laura Territo, RVT
San Francisco’s Mission District has one of the largest and most expensive veterinary specialty hospitals in the Bay Area. If your pet has ever been sick; there’s a good chance you’ve already seen one of the many emergency or board certified Veterinarians at San Francisco Veterinary Specialists-SFVS.
The cost for specialists in Neurology, Cardiology, Surgery, Dentistry, Medicine, Dermatology and Emergency can be hefty, bills of $10,000 and up are not uncommon. This kind of money attracted the attention of large corporations, who are making big money off the pet care industry. Mars Inc., the makers of M&M’s purchased VCA for 9.1 billion dollars in January of 2017. Under the Mars Inc. are the subsidiaries such as VCA, Blue Pearl, Banfield Veterinary Hospitals. They’ve also cornered the pet food market and more.
Big business and profits are causing cutbacks in quality that workers say can compromise care at SFVS. This focus on squeezing profits from clients and workers has sparked one of the first ever unionization by a private sector veterinary hospital. Their success in organizing a union came with the help of the International Longshoreman Warehouse Union (ILWU). Their union consists of the Veterinary Technicians, Assistants, Client Service Representatives and Facilities. They are tired of seeing high quality care compromised for pets and the people that love them.
They are currently in bargaining for their first contract and have been doing so since June. They are bargaining for liveable wages, better benefits worthy of a billion dollar corporation, better training practices, just to name a few. One of the biggest problems is a high employee turnover rate as SFVS does not have competitive wages for the Bay Area. They have lost 19 employees in the last 6 months; 4 of which were Doctors. Many people who have left, have gone to other practices that pay more. There isn’t any solid training practices in place which is another reason that employees leave. Many of the employees at SFVS are paycheck to paycheck and they want the community to know that they are not being taken care of. The clients spend a lot of money on the medical care of their pets and they should be reassured that the hard working people caring for them are cared for. The top level executives at Mars Inc. are well compensated and cared for.
Let’s join them in trying to talk some sense into a big corporation. You can find out more and join this crusade to say YES for quality patient care and NO to corporate greed, by attending their rally. The rally starts at 5pm this Wednesday, December 5th in front of the SFVS hospital at 600 Alabama St, located at the corner of 18th in San Francisco’s Mission District. When they go to the bargaining table next, the SFVS workers will need the communities support, they deserve our support! You can find out more about these workers on Facebook and Instagram, just search for West Coast Pet Care Workers.