Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
San Francisco Social Services Employees Union Records
larc.ms.0415  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (107.34 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Overview
 
Table of contents What's This?
Description
Records of the Social Services Employees Union (SSEU), an independent public workers union in San Francisco. The union, established in the mid-1960s and made up of rank and file social workers and social service employees within the San Francisco Department of Social Services (DSS), was entirely employee-run and governed, and remained unaffiliated with any other official union. Files consist of administrative records, correspondence, DSS inter-office memorandums and meeting minutes, SSEU Negotiating Committee and SSEU Executive Committee meeting agendas and minutes, reference material related to welfare work, and various SSEU-produced newsletters, flyers, and grievance-related materials.
Background
The Social Services Employees Union (SSEU) was an independent public workers union in San Francisco, active from the mid-1960s through the late 1970s. The union, made up of rank and file social workers and social service employees within the San Francisco Department of Social Services (DSS), was entirely employee-run and governed, and remained unaffiliated with any other official union. The SSEU was founded on July 14, 1966 in response to the low pay and difficult working conditions experienced by many welfare workers in the DSS and the dissatisfaction they felt with their current union, the Building Service Employees' International Union, Local 400 (later to become the Service Employees International Union, Local 400). Opposed to strikes and any acts of insubordination that would lead to a member's dismissal, the SSEU used collective action and creative resistance as organizing tactics to bring attention to issues they felt were frequently ignored by management. The SSEU required no mandatory dues or payments; all members were invited to attend Executive Committee meetings and every SSEU member present was able to cast a vote. People were encouraged to write letters to management, request administrative hearings, file grievances, and be as vocal as possible on the problems facing city welfare workers. Members represented themselves and their co-workers in disputes and grievances. SSEU created a Negotiating Committee and the actions of that committee, along with grievance updates, were reported in newsletters and bulletins distributed to worker's desks. The Rag Times and Dialog, SSEU newsletters, published unedited and uncensored, quickly became the main forum for workers to voice their opinions and concerns on issues covering a range of topics, from high caseloads and difficult supervisors, to a shortage of office supplies. The SSEU, as was the case for many small independent unions, struggled to survive long term. It faced opposition not just from management, but also from other unions competing to represent the same welfare workers. In 1967, SEIU established Local 535, as a new statewide local for social workers that covered federally-employed welfare workers. SEIU Local 535 took over the representation of welfare workers from SEIU Local 400 (San Francisco) and, with the power of the national SEIU behind it, campaigned heavily for exclusive bargaining rights for its members. Although the SSEU continued on through the late 1970s, the last issue of Dialog was in 1975, and the last official SSEU meeting was in 1976.
Extent
6.25 Cubic Feet (5 cartons, 1 box)
Restrictions
Copyright has not been assigned to the Labor Archives and Research Center. All requests for permission to publish or quote from materials must be submitted in writing to the Director of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Labor Archives and Research Center as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.
Availability
This collection contains partly restricted materials. Access restrictions are noted at the series level. Please contact the Director of the Labor Archives and Research Center for more information.