UNAC/UHCP President Charmaine Morales, RN, had a mid-life career change, going from successful small business owner to med-surg nurse at Kaiser South Bay Medical Center. First elected as UNAC/UHCP Secretary in 2013, Charmaine made community service and union growth a cornerstone of her work.
In 2015, Charmaine incorporated a member engagement program union-wide. Membership Matters, as the program is called, is the foundation of our union’s leadership and growth initiatives. Charmaine built upon her Membership Matters work in 2018 in Hawaii, where she built a new chapter from the ground up. Her leadership and strategic vision for how to allow the Maui Health System workers a voice in patient care and in their workplace has been nothing short of extraordinary. As a result of her work, other health care professionals in Hawaii have been motivated to join UNAC/UHCP.
In 2016, Charmaine was elected UNAC/UHCP Executive Vice President, and became President in 2022. She’s committed to being a voice for those who feel invisible. Her start as a night shift-nurse taught her the value of listening to all voices. Her inclusive leadership style was on full display when she was a union co-lead of the Patient and Worker Safety subcommittee during negotiations with Kaiser Permanente in 2021. Her commitment to mental health and her ability to find common ground led to a change that made mental health equal to physical health. She said at the time, “The pandemic exacerbated some of the problems we already had, like fatigue, work-life balance and burnout, and brought about new challenges like PTSD. The care we give is the heart of the patient experience at KP – and we must take care of the workers. he Patient and Worker Safety subcommittee is an opportunity to address the safety gaps and make sure all of us – regardless of what we do or where we work – are safe on the job.”
Charmaine is the first woman of color to serve as UNAC/UHCP president. She is also the first Mexican-American and Filipina president, while nearly a quarter of nurses in California are Filipino or of Filipino heritage. After the Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country in 2021, Charmaine sponsored a new racial and social justice committee for UNAC/UHCP, which led to the creation of our Alexis G. Philius Scholarship for students of Black/African descent pursuing careers in health care. She serves as a vice president of the Los Angeles Labor Council, vice president of the California Labor Federation, vice president of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees (NUHHCE), and vice president of Highly Favored: A Blessing to Others, a community group dedicated to unselfish giving to the unhoused in Southern California.
- 32,000 Kaiser workers are on the verge of a major strike. (November 2021)
- Kaiser Permanente union votes to authorize strike (October 2021)
- 5 Oahu nurses fly to Maui’s largest hospital after ‘serious outbreak’ (April 2020)
- UNAC/UHCP Members Got on the Bus to Protect Patients and Community (March 2017)