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Marin Housing Authority employees strike


Mar 11, 2024

Marin Housing Authority workers demonstrate in San Rafael on Jan. 18, 2024. The union has not said how long it intends to continue the walkout. The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wednesday.

Marin Housing Authority workers went on strike Monday and said they planned to continue the walkout for a second day on Tuesday.

“I’m passionate about my work. Striking is the last thing I want,” said Ceena Ford, a program specialist at Marin Housing Authority. “But MHA’s bad-faith bargaining has forced us into a corner — we can’t continue to leave MHA residents in dangerous, demoralizing living conditions.”

Ford was one of 30 union employees represented by Service Employees International Union Local 1021 participating in the strike. The union has not said how long it intends to continue the walkout. The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wednesday.

“The people the Marin Housing Authority serves every day will be impacted by the employees striking,” said Kimberly Carroll, director of the agency. “We are working hard to continue to provide all services during the strike. The employees’ absence will be missed by the 8,000 people MHA serves during this time.”

The union has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the California Public Employment Relations Board asserting that the housing authority has refused to share financial information.

Joel Evans-Fudem, a union field representative, said the board has issued a complaint in the matter.

“They’ve said we’ve made a case at least on its face that what they’ve done is illegal,” Evans-Fudem said.

He said the next step would be for the board to schedule a settlement conference between the two parties.

Union members have made the housing authority’s use of outside contractors an issue in the negotiations. The use of one contractor in particular, Nan McKay and Associates, has come under intense scrutiny.

During a meeting of the housing authority’s board on Jan. 30, a number of tenants complained that the company had mishandled their paperwork and erroneously sent them eviction notices. Some said the company required them to pay more rent than they were legally required to pay.

At the board meeting on Feb. 13, Carroll committed to doing her best to bring the work that McKay has been doing back in-house over the next 12 to 15 months.

Nan McKay, which is based in San Diego, has been overseeing the annual recertification of the authority’s public housing households and voucher households since at least 2016. The company also had a separate contract with the authority to perform annual inspections of residences as required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Evans-Fudem said the housing authority is working with at least 10 outside contractors. He said he is unsure of the exact number because he lacks confidence in the information the housing authority has given the union on the contractors employed.

“They identified seven or eight contractors and then about a week ago gave me the names of two more that weren’t on their original list,” Evans-Fudem said.

He said members of his five-person bargaining team looked at the initial list and identified omissions based on the people they work with.

“Outsourcing is but a superficial fix to our short-staffing crisis,” said Melanie Raquel, a case manager for the Marin Housing Authority.

The striking workers include case managers, housing eligibility workers, housing locators, program specialists and maintenance workers.

“There won’t be maintenance work and cleaning at Golden Gate Village during the strike,” Evan-Fudem said. “That will have a big impact because that’s a huge problem already.”

Royce McLemore, who heads the Golden Gate Village resident council, said, “In the high-rises, we’re living without adequate heating. In addition, we’re dealing with problematic plumbing, mold and rat infestation. That’s why I stand with MHA employees who are fighting for adequate staffing.”

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