Here's how things work all too often in our "post-racial" society: one of California's largest medical systems, Sutter Health/CPMC, has apparently enacted a ban on the hiring of Filipino registered nurses at a major San Francisco hospital.
As noted journalist Emil Guillermo put it, this is 'Just like the old sign that the Filipino National Historical Society displays, the one from the 1920s that reads, "Positively No Filipinos Allowed."'
The California Nurses Association, of which I am a co-president, filed a demand for an investigation by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, as well as filed a class-action grievance on behalf of the nurses denied employment because of their race, ethnicity, and national origin. It is unknown how many Filipinos were turned away from Sutter's St. Luke's Hospital, but we will find out and demand restitution on their behalf.
Nearly 100 Filipino community members and their allies joined nurses this morning at a press conference to express their outrage at this stunning turn of events.
At the press conference, CNA provided testimony by former nursing supervisors at Sutter Health and its San Francisco affiliate and nurses who have faced the discriminatory practices -- and hiring data documenting the results. Chris Hanks, a former director of Critical Care Services at CPMC, said in a declaration that Karner, told him point blank, on a number of occasions, "you are not to hire any Filipinos."
Another former nurse supervisor Ronald Villanueva said in a declaration that he also heard Karner tell another supervisor, "do not hire foreign graduate nurses" -- an unambiguous reference to Filipinos.
The hiring data bears that out. A review by CNA of active employee lists provided by CPMC demonstrates that in early 2008 there was a major demographic shift among the nurses being hired at St Luke's. Before February 2008, 65% of St Luke's RNs were Filipino. After February 2008, only 10% of RNs hired were Filipino.
These are stunning figures. And there is only one possible excuse: retaliation. On or around February of 2008, the nurses of St. Luke's secured a major political victory, in forcing the hospital chain to keep their facility open, and to continue serving the medically-indigent patients who rely upon it. These Filipino nurses showed solidarity, and saved their hospital.
Sutter's response? Stop hiring Filipino nurses.
CNA co-president Zenei Cortez -- the first Filipino to head a major American nursing organization, added that, "St. Luke's and CPMC RNs, many of them Filipino, have been outspoken in defense of their patients, and in opposition to Sutter/CPMC's plans to reduce services to the largely lower income, minority community depending on St. Luke's. Rather than respond to the concerns of the community, CPMC and Sutter have chosen instead to retaliate by carrying out a punitive, illegal, and immoral campaign of discrimination. There can be no excuse for racial or ethnic discrimination. A hospital should be a center of therapeutic healing for patients, not a model of bigotry. They should heal, not hurt."
"Our community needs access to healthcare and good jobs. Sutter/CPMC's discrimination against Filipino nurses is another blatant example of the abuse that Filipino migrant workers face in the United States," added Terry Valen, on behalf of the Filipino Community Center and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns.