CPMC Finally Faces Community on Discrimination Charges
CPMC Finally Faces Filipino Community on Discrimination Charges, But Fails to Convince
San Francisco– Two months after the community press conference to denounce discrimination against Filipino nurses, representatives of the Filipino community met with CPMC CEO Warren Browner and Vice President of Nursing, Diana Karner on Wednesday, October 20, 2010.
Community representatives included Terrence Valen of the Filipino Community Center (FCC) and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON), Raquel Redondiez of Babae and Gabriela-USA, Lillian Galedo of Filipino Advocates for Justice (FAJ), Dazeo Lamparas from the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), and Lyra Ibarra from Active Leadership to Advance the Youth (ALAY).
CPMC brought 4 Filipina supervisors and nurses to the meeting to serve as character witnesses for Diana Karner, but they refused to meet with Ron Villanueva, a nursing manager at St. Luke’s hospital, who together with 2 other nursing supervisors, made sworn written statements that Diana Karner told them not to hire either Filipino or foreign graduate nurses. Villanueva was present at the meeting site on Wednesday but was not allowed to attend the meeting by CPMC, despite his being a key witness to the charge of discrimination.
Outside, more than 35 civic leaders, community members and nurses waited anxiously to hear the outcome of this first meeting and discussed with each other how the issue has affected not only Filipino nurses, but the larger Filipino community, including aspiring Filipino nursing students.
Lyra Ibarra, one of the community delegates, just learned a week before that she was accepted to the nursing program at SFSU. She told the CPMC executives: “It’s hard enough for us as immigrants, working here and going to school so that we can become nurses. To hear about racial discrimination at a San Francisco hospital only discourages people like me.”
It took 2 months for Sutter-CPMC to schedule this sit down meeting with the Filipino community. They only allowed 5 community representatives in the meeting, moved the meeting from St. Luke’s to their corporate headquarters, and refused to allow a key witness to participate in this first meeting.
Sutter-CPMC’s Media Relations Officer, Kevin McCormack stated that they wanted a chance to share their side of the story with Filipino community representatives. While they denied the allegations and brought 4 Filipina nurses on their behalf, none of these nurses offered first-hand knowledge of the meetings where the alleged discriminatory statements were made.
Aside from denying the allegations, CPMC provided no hard evidence in the form of their own sworn statements, numerical statistics of hires during this period, or a copy of a 2-month internal investigation they supposedly completed. Community leaders have reviewed employee lists provided by the union that show a sharp decline in CPMC’s hiring of Filipino nurses that coincides with the time the alleged statements were made by CPMC Diana Karner not to hire Filipino nurses.
At the meeting, CPMC claimed that they have concluded an internal investigation and found no evidence of discrimination, but they did not provide any documentation and only offered to give the community a “summary” or “synopsis” of their investigation.
Community leaders remain skeptical of an internal investigation by CPMC as evidence that discrimination was not possible in this case. They demanded that if CPMC would like to counter the sworn written statements of the nursing manager and supervisors, then Diana Karner should provide her own written and sworn statement. Up until this meeting, there was no public statement from Diana Karner denying the discriminatory hiring directives.
“Three different nursing managers made written statements attesting to Diana Karner’s instruction not to hire Filipino or foreign graduate nurses. If in fact Ms. Karner did not make the discriminatory statements, she should have no problem putting it in writing,” stated Raquel Redondiez, Chairperson of Gabriela-USA.
The community demanded and won agreement on a follow-up meeting in which community leaders, Ron Villanueva and any of the others who made their written statements would be present, together with Diana Karner in the same meeting. CPMC also agreed to provide a summary of their internal investigation, memos or documents informing staff of their non-discrimination policy and grievance procedures, and the written statement from Diana Karner denying that she issued verbal discriminatory hiring directives. These are in addition to the community’s original demands for a public apology and cooperation with a pending San Francisco Human Rights Commission investigation.
After more than an hour, the meeting delegates from the Filipino community walked outside to the cheers of the even larger crowd still gathered. The group reported what happened in the meeting and the sentiment that the Filipino community must remain vigilant until this issue is satisfactorily resolved with hard evidence and definitive guarantees that there will be no further discrimination. The vigilance and leadership from different parts of the San Francisco and Filipino community resulted in this first meeting, and the crowd outside vowed to help push the campaign as long as it takes.
“While this first meeting was a step forward in the campaign against discrimination of Filipino nurses at St. Luke’s hospital, we’re not satisfied with what came out of this first meeting,” Terrence Valen, FCC Executive Director, stated.
Community and union members applauded Villanueva for his courage to speak out publicly and his willingness to come forward. They vowed to support any Filipino community member or nurse who faced discrimination. Lillian Galedo, Executive Director of Filipino Advocates for Justice, reminded everyone that, “We have fought for the rights of Filipino nurses for decades, and we will continue this fight for justice and equality with the Filipino nurses at St. Luke’s.” ###