San Francisco Veterinary Specialists employees strike citing 'deplorable' working conditions

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- An escort could be seen rushing in and out of the San Francisco Veterinary Specialists hospital to squeeze patients past their own employees.

Workers were striking to protest what they call "major compromises in quality care."

Katy Bradley is a bargaining committee member and veterinary assistant.

"Everybody here lives paycheck to paycheck," Bradley said. "Our health benefits here are deplorable and you know we get injured a lot on this job. You know, a patient is struggling, or jumps off a table and we have to catch them."

Bradley said in a of couple cases injuries were so bad that employees couldn't return to work. Those on strike also say they don't have enough or the right equipment to do their jobs.

"We've been trying for a year and a half to get a contract with these guys and they just keep not wanting to deal with us," Laurie Stiles, a veterinary technician said.

Union officials gave ABC7 News a copy of a complaint from the National Labor Relations Board. It cites Mars, the parent company of the hospital, with violating federal labor laws. There will be a hearing soon.

"I was extremely excited and we were told it's very rare for it to get this far," Bradley said.

"They're doing this because they know when they win at this facility, that it is going to spread across the country, "supervisor Hillary Ronen said.

After about an hour on strike, the employees went back inside to work. Their fight is far from over.

Mars provided the below statement to ABC7 News:

"VCA has been in contract negotiations for over a year with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents certain staff at VCA San Francisco Veterinary Specialists (SFVS). We remain committed to reaching a contract that treats employees fairly and enables the hospital to provide the highest levels of specialty patient care and emergency services for patients and clients in San Francisco. VCA SFVS currently has a bargaining session scheduled for today, Sept. 5, with the Union and is scheduled for a mediation on Sept. 6 with the Federal Mediator and Consolidation Service."
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