Filipino nurses in Vegas face layoffsBy Bert Eljera
INQUIRER.net US Bureau
LAS VEGAS—Filipino nurses are among several employees who are likely to lose their jobs as the St. Rose Dominican hospital here implements a plan to lay off workers.
As many as 40 positions are on the chopping block as the hospital, with three facilities in the Las Vegas area, initiate a cut-down plan.
“It’s scary,” said Rachel Chao, who has worked for nearly 10 years at one of the campuses. “With the hard economic times, you never know.”
Chao is one of about 500 Filipino nurses, nearly half of the 1,400 employees of the St. Rose hospital complex, which recruited heavily in the Philippines several years ago.
St. Rose, owned by Dignity Health, a San Francisco-based hospital chain, operates three valley hospitals: Rose de Lima Campus on 102 East Lake Mead Parkway, in Henderson; the San Martin Campus on West Warm Springs Road; and Siena Campus on Rose Parkway in Henderson, where Chao works.
Notices have been sent out to the 40 employees who may be laid off, about three percent of the total number of nurses at Siena, said officials of the National Nurses Organizing Committee.
The layoffs come just a few months after Dignity officials announced that union nurses in Nevada and California had ratified new four-year contracts.
The agreements, which expire in June 2017, include a wage freeze in the first year and an overall pay raise of nine percent over the length of the deal, according to St. Rose.
Hospital officials said a year ago they were eliminating 100 positions from the St. Rose system. The cutbacks were said to be mostly in supervisory or support positions and not in direct patient care.
But Chao, a union representative, said the layoffs affect administrative nursing positions, including charge nurses and case managers.
“They are recruiting new grads and offering them lower pay and benefits,” said Chao, who works as a half case manager and half charge nurse. “It used to be very stable, now it’s not. We don’t want that.”
Despite the unstable situation, another long-time Filipino nurse at the hospital, Lorelei Mendez, said she was not so worried because of her tenure.
“I’m not very familiar with the details of the lay-offs,” said Mendez, who has worked at the Siena campus for more than 10 years. “But I think I’m pretty safe, but I’m worried about my pension.”
Last week, about 200 nurses picketed at the Siena campus. Carrying signs and chanting at motorists, they kept warm with hot chocolate and coffee during the two-hour rally as temperatures fell into the 40s.
“You know there’s something seriously wrong if nurses are taking to the streets,” Liz Bickle told the Las Vegas Sun. “Layoffs are just something we couldn’t take.”