I think my coworkers elected me because they know I am a fair person and I try to make sure everyone at work is treated equally.
I was just me being me. I came in half way through negotiations, it was interesting and exciting. In 2003, we were negotiating the first contract the university has had in a technical unit. This first contract was significant because it included merit increases along with cost of living increases. During these negotiations each side got a chance to show what was important and what was not. I got a chance to bond with a bunch of nice people in different areas and job positions. It made me aware of the different things that are going on in the hospital that I didn’t know before because I’m mostly in the basement and I don’t get out too much.
Now, negotiating is a bit more unpleasant because the university is taking more control. In the beginning we were directly employed by the hospital and the hospital understood the value of its employees, but unfortunately the university does not. We just finished our current contract this past winter. This time around we were more mindful of the maxed out employees, meaning employees in the technical department who receive increases but have a ceiling. With this contract we made sure they could still get a chance to move just a little higher.
I care for people. My upbringing enabled me to be a good listener and try to help as much as I can. My parents and grandparents taught me that. I feel this applies everywhere. My coworkers saw this and that’s how I got elected to be a steward. I do still try to encourage my coworkers to become more active themselves so the union can move and grow. When my coworkers have management issues, I encourage them to talk to each other about that issue and then talk to the manager that way they can better tackle the issue as a group. The union has taught me that as an individual you perish or are vulnerable but with a group you become stronger and get things done.
We’ll be reaching out to members across Illinois and Northwest Indiana to vote on the recommendations and, if approved by members, we will seek SEIU President Mary Kay Henry’s approval to begin the process of returning the Local to self-governance. I believe in a union that says that if we all work together, and we all contribute, then we all benefit.