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Former SF SAFE Employees File Labor Complaint Against Defunct Nonprofit

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A building with intricate pillars in front, as well as a red and white city bus.
A Muni bus passes by City Hall in San Francisco on Aug. 8, 2023. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

About a dozen former employees of SF SAFE, a police-affiliated nonprofit that abruptly shut down last month, gathered at City Hall on Thursday to file an official complaint in an effort to recover lost wages and benefits.

The decades-old crime prevention organization abruptly closed its doors in January and laid off much of its staff after an official audit found it had misused nearly $80,000 of taxpayer money — funded by SFPD — for “excessive” expenditures, including a trip to Lake Tahoe, luxurious gift boxes and limo services.

Joshua Miles, a former employee, said he’s still waiting to get paid for at least a week of work and 50 hours of vacation and sick time.

“It is a total injustice for us to put in work for a company or organization, and because of someone else’s actions, we fall under unpaid. That’s totally unfair,” he said.

SF SAFE stands for Safety Awareness for Everyone, which SFPD describes as its “nonprofit community engagement arm.” It remains unclear if the organization’s closure is permanent or not.

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Patrick Mulligan, the director of the city’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, which helped former SF SAFE employees fill out claim forms, said he couldn’t comment on the case because it is an open investigation but suggested it would not be resolved anytime soon, as his office is currently backlogged with at least 200 other cases.

Some former employees also said they experienced poor working conditions at SF SAFE.

“It was terrible. Honestly, I wish I’d never worked here,” said Miles, who had been at the nonprofit for eight months. He said at one point on the job, a man waiting for service acted as if he was going to pull a gun on him, an incident Miles reported but received no response about.

Kyra Worthy, SF SAFE’s former executive director for the last six years, was fired by its board shortly after the audit came out following allegations that the nonprofit hadn’t been paying some of the partner organizations it worked with and that its bank accounts were depleted, with indications of check forgery also thrown in the mix, the SF Standard reported.

Since then, the SF Latino Task Force has also claimed that SF SAFE owes them $625,000 for training services. And a florist business in the Mission District said the group owes it nearly $20,000 for a large number of flowers purchased.

Neither Worthy nor the lawyers for SF SAFE replied to a request for comment.

Despite his negative experience working at SF SAFE, Miles, the former employee, said he greatly appreciates his former coworkers and their ongoing unity.

“It means everything because if we weren’t all united here right now, we’d probably be just swept under the rug,” he said. “But since we’re coming together as a unit and a group, I believe they have to hear us out.”

Gina Guitron, another former employee, said she is still owed $10,000 in back pay. She said Worthy, the former executive director, also created a toxic environment by pitting staff members against each other and not providing health insurance to employees who were hired within the second half of last year.

“I just really hope it does get resolved with the right people,” Guitron said. “We will find somebody to get justice.”

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