Workers at Planned Parenthood Call on CEO to Address Low Wages, Staff Turnover One Year after Dobbs Decision

July 11, 2023

Nearly 100 members of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM) are calling on interim CEO Ellen Frank in an open letter released today. The calls on efforts to address retention and recruitment with higher pay and increased training opportunities, that would help safeguard reproductive care in the state.  

“The dedication, passion, and emotional labor put in by clinic workers every day is the heart of Planned Parenthood’s care, and they deserve the ability to feed their families and pay their rent,” said Cait, an organizer with PPLM. “Planned Parenthood needs to live up to the ideals of reproductive rights and equity the organization claims to stand for, by paying all workers a fair wage.” 

1199SEIU members in the Boston, Worcester, Marlborough and Springfield PPLM sites have been bargaining their first contract since October 2022, with very little progress as management delays responses to proposals and relegates negotiations only to evenings, impacting workers who are parents and caretakers. These delays mirror the experience workers at Trader Joes, Amazon, and Starbucks have experienced as workers call out their stalling tactics

“It's critical that PPLM radically increases their wages to reflect the reality of cost of living in Massachusetts. No employee of PPLM should be living hand to mouth or paycheck to paycheck,” said Jon Marx, a western Massachusetts organizer with PPLM. 

The urgency of recruitment and retention of frontline workers is evident with the abrupt reduction of services for patients in the Marlborough site, which will only be open two days a week this month. Additionally, PPLM workers filed a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) charge against PPLM in October regarding a change in workload, that forced several experienced clinicians to work without lunch breaks and resulted in patients being double-booked. Many clinicians quit shortly afterwards, with the largest impact in the Boston site, where 50% of the full-time clinicians departed. 

“As Massachusetts champions protecting access to reproductive and gender-affirming care, the PPLM workers, who are leading the way are being pushed to the brink,” said Dana Alas, 1199SEIU vice president. “To truly protect and expand access, 1199SEIU members at PPLM deserve to be able to care for themselves and their own families so they can remain in the roles they love.” 

PPLM workers began organizing in early 2022, with 98% of workers voting to unite in 1199SEIU shortly after the Dobbs decision in July 2022. They are part of a growing movement of Planned Parenthood workers in SEIU, which represent nearly 1,000 Planned Parenthood workers in New York, Maine, Washington D.C., and Colorado.