To our patients, colleagues and neighbors,
Some of you may have noticed the signs, flyers and super-sized Grim Reaper from the Local 22 Carpenters Union protesting the construction of our new office space. First of all, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. We truly appreciate all of your loyalty and support these past 6 months as we traveled between temporary offices since being displaced by the fire in our original office in September. Since the beginning of this year, we secured a long term temporary location that has allowed us to see patients until we move to our new office back in Potrero Hill. We started construction in the new space a couple weeks ago, and then found out today we are the target of a very misleading labor union protest.
We want to make it very clear that our professionalism, ethics, clinical work and our employee standards are not being questioned. Despite what the flyers and posters depict, Potrero Hill Dental has no labor disputes with any members of our dental team. Nancy and I stand by our practice and want to let you know what is going on.
Local 22 is a local carpenters' union that protests both big and small businesses in San Francisco (see here) to use union carpenters. They are not happy that our general contractor, Barber Construction, who specializes in medical and dental offices in the Bay Area, does not use union carpenters/subcontractors in all of their projects, not just in San Francisco. In the words of the Local 22 field representative - "Our fight is not with you." Their fight is with all the general contractors who don't pay area standard wages aka union wages. Actually, at the root of it, their fight is with the SF Planning Department, who determines who is allowed to build in a given location(union vs nonunion).
Nancy and I are confident in our partnership with Barber Construction, who built our original office on Vermont St. We pay fair market-value for their expertise and we continue to use them because they have worked with the same subcontractors for years and have great relationships with them. Specifically, our millwork subcontractor, whose exceptional carpenters make our cabinets, is family-owned and operated, and the family has even volunteered many extra hours to help us salvage our office from the fire damage. Further, Barber Construction has a very specific knowledge on dental build-outs and knows how to deal with dental specific plumbing and equipment issues, which is not the case with any contractor.
We sincerely feel that the Local 22 protesters have misplaced their efforts, targeting a struggling small business. Despite our conversations with the union representative to explain our situation, the union doesn't care that we are a new small business trying to bring a health service to a neighborhood that does not currently have easy access to dental care. They also don't care that we are struggling to rebuild our dental practice after a devastating fire only 6 months after we opened. It feels like someone is kicking us when we are already down.
To be completely transparent, Nancy and I have put everything we have into our practice. We are small business owners, not part of any larger dental chain or franchise that would prioritize profitability over patient care. We are the first dentists in our families -- our parents were immigrants, teaching us by example that hard work, honesty and determination were what we needed to succeed. We don't come from wealthy families or from a dental business background, and we have a significant chunk of our student loans left to prove it!
At PHD, we put our patients and our employees first. Our dental team is our most valuable asset, and we respect and value each member of our practice -- that is why we have an incredible dental team that has supported us, even through moving in and out of five different temporary locations and dealing with scheduling curveballs. Local 22's signs about labor disputes are highly misleading -- we have no labor disputes with any of our employees. They are just as stunned as we are to be the target of these protests.
If you have any questions or concerns about the protests, please let us know. We are happy to discuss with you. At the end of the day, despite all of the negative events this past year, our goal is the same as when we first opened this business, which is to provide high quality and honest dental care to the best of our ability - and that is what we will continue to do.
Thanks for reading!
Jane and Nancy