Employees of San Francisco's largest animal hospital walked off the job Thursday over allegations of unfair labor practices.
The action, which included technicians, assistants, coordinators and facilities personnel, but not veterinarians, marks the second walkout in three months at VCA San Francisco Veterinary Specialists, located in the Mission District. It comes amid increasingly tense contract negotiations between employees and management that have dragged on for roughly 18 months.
In August, the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against VCA, which owns some 750 animal hospitals nationwide, determining that it had violated labor laws by not engaging in good-faith bargaining. The agency also called for a federal court hearing in late September to further investigate the issue. In the meantime, bargaining sessions will continue on Friday with a federal mediator.
VCA was purchased in 2017 by Mars Inc. Known principally as a candy company, Mars has in recent years acquired roughly 2,000 veterinary clinics in the United States, in addition to about 400 more globally.
Soon after the acquisition, hospital staff voted to unionize, joining the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). Staff now claim that hospital management, in addition to prolonging negotiations, is also assigning union work to non-union staff.