Luisa Blue, Chief Elected Officer of SEIU Local 521 and tireless activist, was awarded the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award by SEIU Nurse Alliance of California for her 35 years of dedication and impactful service.
Luisa was presented with the award among local leaders and peers at the SEIU Executive Board Meeting on April 24th in Los Angeles. Amidst great applause, Ingela Dahlgren, Executive Director of SEIU Nurse Alliance of California, spoke on Luisa’s pure and inspiring actions. As one of the first nurses to see the lack in safe treatment towards HIV/AIDS patients in the 1980s, Luisa united fellow nurses and physicians to push for greater understanding towards these fragile patients when no one else would. The nurses demanded vital training and a necessary protection of confidentiality (later established as HIPPA). Her compassion as a nurse led to the enactment of Blood Borne Pathogens and Safe Needle Handling Laws, which were later adopted on a national scale, and recognized by the CDC as a significant public health victory.
As a medical surgical nurse, and then a critical care nurse, at San Francisco General Hospital, Luisa was one of the founding members of what is now SEIU Nurse Alliance of California. Her involvement in the labor movement began with Local 400 (now Local 1021) in San Francisco, addressing the immediate issues of understaffing, known as nurse-to-patient ratios today. Luisa has exemplified the impact one person can contribute to a larger cause of action.
Luisa is an outspoken advocate for unity and racial tolerance. As the CEO of Local 521, she represents 55,000 diverse workers who provide service to an equally diverse central California region. In the past, she pushed for adequate training of immigrant nurses who came to fill a need, and pushed to protect the rights of Filipino nurses. She later helped found the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), the first national organization for AAPI union members, which has grown to 660,000.
Upon the reception of this award, Luisa had to say, “I am so touched by this award and I thank each and every one of you for continuing the important work of our SEIU Nurse Alliance and raising the voices of registered nurses and all healthcare workers … We have accomplished much over the 35 years and continue leading the way through our work advocating for the Affordable Care Act and educating the public on its merit … we are now advocating for safety standards to prevent violence at the workplace … developing legislative bills and monitoring state agencies that impact our profession and the healthcare industry. All of this [is] done by rank and file nurses.”
Congratulations Luisa and thank you for your great contribution to nurses and patients, and to all the hard working members of SEIU Local 521.