Un-Warren-ted Assumptions

Last week, wrote a bit about the Filipino nurses in California, via California Nurses’ Association (CNA) filing a lawsuit against California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) about hiring discrimination against Filipino nurses.

After the news of this discrimination suit spread through local and national circuits, Warren Browner, the CEO of CPMC released the below letter to Terry Valen, the organizational director of San Francisco’s Filipino Community Center and the co-signed folks who are in support of the campaign.

Today, I’m writing about the assumptions Warren Browner writes with in his letter response to the case and campaign, and his blog posting about the issue. You might want to browse through that as well, here.

Dear Mr. Valen,

Thank you very much for your letter sharing your concerns. It’s unfortunate that you waited until after the news conference to ask us about these claims. Had you approached us earlier, we would have been able to reassure you that the California Nurses Association’s allegations are ridiculous and based on non-existent numbers.

As you know, many of the nurses at our St. Luke’s Campus, and at our other campuses and medical clinics in San Francisco, are Filipino. We are honored that our nurses choose to work at CPMC and greatly value their skill, compassion and commitment to caring for our patients. We are also proud of our long history of diversity in hiring and our commitment to being an equal opportunity employer. We would never discriminate against any individual or group, nor would we allow any member of our staff to order anyone else to do so.

The allegations made by CNA are serious, but they are also dishonest and without merit. The union claims that, based on CPMC’s own numbers, it can show a pattern of discrimination in the hiring of Filipino nurses. But those numbers do not exist. We have no way of knowing how many of our nurses are Filipino. We know how many are Asian and can show that 66 percent of the nurses at St. Luke’s today are Asian by self-report (up from 63 percent in 2007) but we don’t know how many are Filipino any more than we know how many are of Chinese or Japanese or Korean origin. We do not ask about country of origin.

In the news release that we sent out in response to the allegations, we quoted two Filipino nurses who have worked at St. Luke’s for a combined 31 years. Both were shocked and dismayed at the union’s desperation in making those claims. Here is what our nurses had to say:

Emilia Maninang RN, Clinical Nurse Manager in the Skilled Nursing Facility/Sub-Acute care unit at St. Luke’s: “I have worked at St. Luke’s for 19 years and no one has ever told me not to hire Filipino nurses. I’m Filipino, and if I had heard anyone say that I would’ve been appalled. I think the claims are part of CNA’s agenda to try and make CPMC look bad.”

Rose Duya RN: “When I heard the allegations made by the union I thought, ‘They must be desperate.’ I’m Filipino, most of my colleagues here at St. Luke’s are Filipino and I have been to many of the other CPMC campuses and have seen many other Filipinos there as well, so I don’t see how the union can make those claims.”

It’s also important to note that Emilia Maninang is on the hiring committee at St. Luke’s, so she would certainly know if there was any policy not to hire Filipino nurses. She says no one ever said anything like that to her, and if they had, she would have reported them.

The truth is the union is making these claims is to cover up its failure to win a contract for its nurses despite three years of negotiations. We recently offered to give our nurses a 2 percent raise. We believe the nurses deserve the raise for their hard work and dedication to patient care. However, union leaders have fought against our offer to provide a raise to nurses and we believe their discrimination charges are designed to divert attention from their own failure at the bargaining table.

We share with you in having a deep and abiding disgust at any form of discrimination and we welcome an investigation by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. We know it will show that the allegations are false and without any merit and that CNA made these false claims knowing full well the numbers they were citing were concocted.

We stand by our record as an employer committed to diversity. Our goal is to attract and recruit the very best employees who reflect the diversity of our patients and our City.

I have let all CPMC employees know exactly how I feel about this issue, and encourage you and the co-signers of your letter to read what I wrote (http://talktowarren.wordpress.com/2010/08/20/some-are-harder-than-others/).

I hope this addresses your concerns and answers your questions. If you would still like to meet with CPMC, please contact Kevin McCormack atmccormkd@sutterhealth.org or 415-600-7484.

Yours truly, Warren Browner, MD, MPH CEO, California Pacific Medical Center

Here are 5 things wrong about this letter and Mr. Browner’s weird and patronizing blogpost:

1. This letter is condescending. Don’t call a concerted, community effort to bring to light an issue that is obviously of utmost importance to them, their families and their livelihood “ridiculous.” Because then you’re ridiculous.

2. A “long history of diversity in hiring” in an institution that has over 50% Filipino employees is not diverse hiring. It is an investment in hiring of cheaper labor, cutting cost and working in cahoots with a country (the Philippines) and its labor export policy for extracting migrant labor for American niche economies. More broadly, induced migration due to the underdevelopment of a country, like the Philippines, coupled with a “labor-brokerage” system (see Robyn Rodriguez‘s break down of that there) means that first world, ahem American, needs for service and health industry jobs are met with priority.

3. Mr. Browner is engaging in a very familiar ‘management’ tactic of putting workers against workers. Just because there are 2 other Filipino nurses who were willing to co-sign on to Mr. Browner’s defense, doesn’t mean discrimination isn’t happening. It means that discrimination is nuanced, and perhaps multi-faceted in the forms it takes and the scope it reaches.

4. Hatin’ on the unions and demonizing the good work they do to maintain the rights, wages and welfare of workers isn’t gonna make you look like a fair boss. It only makes you look like a type of employer who is threatened by worker power and collective bargaining power.

5. Mr. Browner, just because you’ve been to the Philippines and have eaten your share of lumpia doesn’t mean Filipino nurses are not discriminatorily exclude nurses in new hiring cycles under your administration. In his blog post, I’m not sure if it is in some effort to prove his allegiance to the islands, and therefore to the Filipino people, thus Filipino nurses. Mr. Browner writes an unnecessary and patronizing write-up of his tour of the Philippines where he points to tourist destinations and food as a notes to his public about his appreciation for all things Filipino. This is exercise in multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism as some sort of proof of awareness of the country is, at best, insulting and, at worst, voyeuristic.

7 responses to “Un-Warren-ted Assumptions”

  1. but his wife is probably a filipino…. yaaaddaaa

    1. oowee, if that’s true, that’ll be a whole otha conversation.

  2. you’re my hero, v! i like the link to robyn’s book, too!

    1. Thanks Terry! The nurses, you and all of the community organizers there working on this campaign are the real heroes! Mabuhay kayo!

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