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Friday, November 18, 2011

In America we have free speech...unless we support working people

I have received three emails following my public appearance on the sidewalk in front of Memorial Medical Center in Long Beach -- all attacking that I was there and calling me out on a) either being a union tool or b) not focusing on my job as a City Council person by taking time to walk with Registered Nurses and others.

Some people are not reading the news. I am a Registered Nurse Practitioner (and lawyer) and have worked in healthcare for BOTH labor and management. So I am nobody's tool.

As an aside, the Press Telegram failed to inform these gentle emailers, that there were other elected officials there as well....and many more elected officials protesting not far away from there at the CSU Chancellor's Office because of a vote to raise tuition 9%. Sorry, I couldn't make both because not only do I work non stop trying to represent my council district but I also teach at CSULB -- Health Care Human Resources Management and Law -- and am trying to keep my medical-legal consulting business thriving.

I welcome discourse on issues, but I find it in bad taste to be told that I better watch out cause I won't be re elected for exercising my right to free speech. (sorry, but I was re-elected to my second and final term on City Council in 2010.) That is the same tactic used against working men and women who collectively bargain. Better watch out.

As that email partially read:

So stand with your brother’s and sister’s, but hope they stand by you come election time.
LBM/MCHLB/CHLB employees 6,000 in the area and more than ½ are not nurses. Your public actions are seen as a abuse of your position and has angered many employees here. So good luck with reelection come that time and I hope you get some education on the true facts, BEFORE you make public appearances.
My families vote you have lost!

My response:

I find your email very interesting in light of the fact that there were other elected officials at the vigil as well. However, the PT chose not to show their photos nor mention their names. That being said, you are entitled to your opinion but threats of retaliation are not appropriate in our democracy nor in the collective bargaining system that is protected by law. You may be disappointed in me as I am in you for failing to support patient safety and the nurses who provide the care that enable that hospital and all hospitals to make money. Without nursing care, there would be no hospitals. I am doing the job I was elected to especially in light of the fact that the City of Long Beach gave Community Hospital to Memorial without asking for any compensation. That saved quite a few jobs, didn't it?
 To the other gentle emailers, I responded:

The beauty of this country is free speech. Including those represented in collective bargaining. The quality of care which gives Memorial its reputation is the care delivered by the nurses I stood with. Thanks for sharing your opinion.

This is why I love America. We have the right to free speech without fear of retaliation. Don't we?

Save Station 18

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