Teamsters at the San Francisco Zoo took on outsourcing, and won

Dayna Sherwood and Jenna Russo are Shop Stewards at the San Francisco Zoo

In August, Teamsters 856 members at the San Francisco Zoo called out their employer’s attempt to outsource custodial work, and stopped them in their tracks.

“Outsourcing the skill, knowledge, and experience of dedicated in-house employees that are committed to quality work leads to a poor product and reduced service levels,” said Teamsters 856 Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer Peter Finn. “The end result is that customers and the public suffer.”

Dayna Sherwood has been a zoo keeper at the San Francisco Zoo for 11 years


At the zoo, management used a temp agency to outsource a custodial job. “We saw him and wondered who he was,” said Dayna Sherwood, a zoo keeper and Shop Steward. “Custodial said he was hired to pick up trash for the day, but we knew management couldn’t do that.”

Although the custodial department is short two full-time permanent positions, the zoo was not hiring at the time. “For us the main issue was that we were super understaffed in custodial, and instead of replacing people who left – they outsourced,” said Dayna.

Jenna Russo has worked in guest services at the San Francisco Zoo for 12 years

Jenna Russo who works in the zoo’s guest services department agreed. “Using an outside agency takes away from a union position, which makes us weaker,” she said. “It’s just wrong that they would outsource for a position they said they would fill and never did.”

When Dayna and her coworkers notified Teamsters 856 Rep. Tim Jenkins, he sent management a cease and desist letter. In the letter, he called out the zoo’s violation of their MOU: “This is bargaining unit work and the employer failed to [notify] the Union of this significant change…As a result, the Union demands that the Zoo immediately cease and desist having temp employees perform bargaining unit work.”

Holding management to the MOU worked, and the zoo stopped its using the temp agency to outsource custodial work.

“It is getting harder and harder to make it working in San Francisco,” said Tim. “Losing even one good union job to outsourcing is worth fighting. I’m proud to work with the stewards who stood up to this.”

This year, Local 856 launched the Fight Outsourcing campaign to educate members and the public, and oppose outsourcing in all its forms.

“Outsourcing is more than offshoring jobs to foreign countries. It also comes in the form of employers contracting out once in-house jobs to the lowest bidder…Outsourcing in all its forms is the result of poor management and destroys middle-class jobs, our communities, the quality of products and level of services.” –Teamsters 856’s Fight Outsourcing website,

Learn more and get involved in Teamsters 856’s Fight Outsourcing campaign at