Sisterly Concern

UFW legend Dolores Huerta wonders why her old friends who run the St. Joseph's hospitals have turned on their own workers

When you first heard what was going on at St. Joseph's, what did you think?

Well, it's very hard to understand why the sisters support farm workers and don't support their own workers. It's irrational. It doesn't make any sense how you can differentiate between the people who feed us and the people who heal us. Without their workers, it would be impossible for them to function. I mean, they're the ones who do the work to make sure the doctors and the nurses can do their work. It's just unreasonable for them to continue this resistance and opposition to their workers having a union when they so clearly understood why the farm workers needed a union. It's the same principle: Workers need to be able to have an organization to be able to represent them and to communicate with the employer about what needs to be improved in the hospital.

Do you think the history of the order should be separated from the management of a health system?

Huerta is nun too pleased.
Photo by Keith May
Huerta is nun too pleased.

Oh, of course not. Not if they're going to use the same name. If you're going to use the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, you're not going to use violence, right? If you're going to use the name Cesar Chavez, you're not going to go against farm workers. And even forget St. Joseph. I'm talking about the fact that they're sisters and they represent the Church and they represent women. You'd think that they would be the first ones to be out there, just like their sisters were out there on the front lines, not only demanding justice, but being out there, going to jail, doing the things that needed to be done. I mean, the fact that they're not supporting their own workers, they're tarnishing their own image of what they have stood for all of these years.

Have you tried to speak directly with the sisters?

No. I haven't done that.

If you had a chance to sit down with Sister Katherine, what would you say to her?

I would say, Why? Why the resistance? I would say, Why are you not doing what your traditions have been for all of these years?

What would Cesar [Chavez] say?

Oh, he would be so disappointed. He would just be very disappointed.


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