Brenda Gomez, RN

I’ve always been pro-union. I lived through the downsides of working non-union before I came to St. Francis. We took pay cuts, never got raises, worked out of ratio. It was horrible. That’s why I’m helping organize the RNs at PIH Health Downey, where I also work sometimes. I can definitely tell them the benefits of working union. I came to St. Francis because friends here told me about the union contract and better wages. I can see the huge role the union has played in ratio enforcement and patient safety. When they try to make us do something that’s not safe for the patient, the union is always there to back us up.

I was going to study pre-med originally. But I decided that nursing was better for me. Now I love it, and I’m glad I didn’t become a doctor. Nursing has more of what I envisioned myself doing, like communicating with the families. When your patients come in at death’s door and then walk out healthy, that’s the single best thing, seeing them smile, say “Thank you,” and appreciate what you’ve done.

I feel like, why wouldn’t you want to get involved in your union? It’s having a say in your work. I wanted to get to know my way around the hospital first, because I’m kind of new here. But I read my little contract book a lot, and when I felt comfortable I reached out to a friend in the union and he encouraged me. I went to steward training. I know the contract better than the managers. So many nurses work here and they don’t really know that much about the union and the contract. Now that people know I’m more involved I can be a resource for them. I get to speak on behalf of my unit.

I was elected an alternate on the Bargaining Team. We’re facing the sale of the hospital, but we got an extension of the contract and we’re meeting to plan for negotiations. I’m not worried about the sale. I went through the sale of Downey, and if that little hospital could sustain itself, I have no doubt that St. Francis can too. We’re the only trauma center in the area. We’re a certified STEMI center and a stroke center. Our census is strong. I’m sure we’ll be able to maintain the hospital through this.