Mayor plans health care for SEIU part-timers

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom declared Tuesday that The City plans to “walk the talk” of universal health care by providing benefits to part-time workers, but those benefits will not be available to city workers outside the Service Employees International Union.

Newsom said he and Supervisor Tom Ammiano plan to make a “historic” announcement regarding universal health care in two weeks, and that it would be hypocritical to deny city workers health benefits in light of that.

City negotiators came to a tentative agreement with SEIU negotiators Monday, announcing a new contract that would commit $4.5 million during the next three years for health care for “as needed” workers. A working group made up of six city representatives and six union representatives will decide how the benefits are awarded.

“Obviously, someone who does five hours of work for the city won’t get health benefits,” Newsom said.

Configuring a set of guidelines to determine who gets coverage will be a priority for the working group, Department of Human Resources spokeswoman Colby Zintl said Tuesday. Under the contract, the group will hold its first meeting before Aug. 1 and will have the benefits plan worked out no later than next April.

According to Department of Human Resources Director Phil Ginsburg, The City employs “a few thousand” as-needed, part-time, provisional and seasonal employees, but the benefits will only be extended to the 1,200 to 1,500 represented by SEIU.

Ginsburg said that if the agreement works, the benefits might be extended to part-time workers in other unions. “We’re starting with SEIU. Let's see where the SEIU committee takes us. As a director of human resources, I'm interested in having similarly situated people treated similarly,” he said.

amartin@examiner.com

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