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Workers unite to say: “End Bullying at MLK!”

In the ongoing fight to end bullying at MLK Jr. Outpatient Center, frontline workers came together in an action to let management there know how bullying affects them, patients, other workers, and Just Culture.

Dozens of workers stopped by during their breaks and shift changes to fill out “No Bully Zone” cards and share their thoughts on the situation and how it is affecting them.

“When action to address bully bosses is taken, everybody is able to relax and be relieved. It’s better than how it was but there are still problems,” MLK healthcare interpreter Carlos Chicas said. “Some people in those positions never truly received training on how to manage or be a supervisor and HR overlooked that.”

After filling a poster board with notes from staff members, a group of workers hand-delivered the board and more than 100 letters signed by staff to MLK CEO Yolanda Vera, who came out of her office to speak with the group.

“We’re getting all the facts and information and going through as fair and as safe process as I know how to do,” she said. “Once we get the report back we’ll take full consideration of the findings. We’ve committed to doing that and we’re still committed to doing that.”

MLK Pharmacist Donald Nwanze, who has personally experienced the bullying at MLK, joined the action on behalf of UAPD workers and told Vera that employees are “very hopeful” that the issue will be handled with urgency.

“We trust that you will give (this matter) your best concentration and the urgency it deserves,” he said.

An investigation into the bullying at MLK has been going on for more than a year. Vera, who took over as CEO about five months ago, said she understands the workers’ frustration and assured them her door is always open for hearing their concerns.

She said she’s supportive of the Just Culture initiative and congratulated the group on this week’s unanimous motion by the LA Board of Supervisors to formalize the groundbreaking Labor Management Transformation Council, or LMTC.

“My job, having been here for five months is to get the facts and not leap to judgement,” Vera said. “My goal is to try to have MLK be the best possible place for our patients to go to.”

The workers there were quick to echo that statement and chimed in saying, “That’s what we all want too.”

“We love this place,” MLK pharmacy technician Maria Gong told Vera. “I was here when the hospital was open, I was here when they shut it down, I was here for the transition and I want nothing more than to see this place succeed for our patients.”

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