A Filipino-American nurse, who alleges that her hospital fired her in relation with her unionization efforts has been invited by US President Barack Obama.
On Wednesday, Allysha Almada headed to Washington, D.C. and attended the White House Summit on Worker Voice. During her visit, she met up with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) President Richard Trumka as well as democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
During Almada’s send-off outside of Pasadena City Hall, she was quoted saying: “I’m definitely excited to bring the message of the Huntington nurses to the White House and the Capitol.”
Along with this, Councilman Victor Gordo awarded her with a “Courage Award.” The labor attorney admired Almada for her efforts to unify the nurses at Pasadena’s only hospital.
“Frankly, Huntington Hospital should be embarrassed about what they’ve done,” he said of the firing.
The Summit on Workers Voice focuses on “how workers can make their voices heard in their workplace in ways that are good for the workers and businesses,” according to a White House release
Almada and fellow nurse Vicki Lin in early August were fired from Huntington Hospital for trying to organize the nurses and form a union that would advocate for work condition, patient care issues, and salary. The suspension and subsequent termination came only a week after she spoke on a community panel, according to Almada.
“They said I had just violated hospital policies but it is definitely clearly retaliation during the sequence of events and because of what I’ve been trying to advocate for. They fired me because I’ve been advocating for nurses to have a voice at Huntington hospital,” she said.
In line with the firing, the National Labor Relations Board has initiated a thorough check into the hospital’s alleged union busting practices.
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Noble, however, refused to give any comment on Almada’s case but he assured that the “hospital’s guiding principles in decision making are based on ensuring patient safety – and providing the quality care we have consistently delivered as a trusted community resource.”
The California Nurses Association, which has been trying to form the union at the hospital, filed charges against Huntington Hospital with the National Labor Relations Board in August, including allegations of retaliation and unfair termination.
Calling Huntington Hospital as her “second home,” Almada recalled how she started her career in the said hospital, also noting how she went through her nurse’s training at the hospital. Her mother is also a Huntington nurse.
Almada is willing to return not only to return as a nurse but to continue the fight for patient safety and working conditions.
“Just because I got evicted for now, doesn’t mean I don’t want to go back,” Almada explained.