Corazon Arabaca, RN

I’ve stayed at Fountain Valley for over three decades because of my co-workers. They’ve become like family. I’ve been here a long time and I’m very vocal. Sometimes they’re scared to speak up, so they come to me to help them. I tell them don’t be afraid, we’re dues-paying union members. Still, sometimes I’m scared too, but I know I can always talk to our Union Representative. The Union can protect us.

I don’t consider myself a leader, but the members just keep coming to me. I’m only doing what I feel I’m supposed to do to support my patients and the union. I’m not an officer or a steward, just a plain member. But I go to the meetings. I relay information along to my co-workers. And if I see a problem, I try to fix it.

I just do what I feel everybody should do. I read the contract, and I tell everybody to read the contract, because it’s a legal agreement between our union and the hospital. If there’s a question about something, look it up. Sometimes management doesn’t follow the contract. Sometimes there are problems with staffing or floating. I always tell my co-workers, don’t just talk to each other, document the issue. In the union, we have a process. We gather all the information and go in with the facts. So documentation is a key part of making the changes we wish to see.

We have negotiations coming up in November. There’s one reason the Union wins a good contract: the members. We are the Union, so we need to be a part of it. I encourage my co-workers to go to the meetings and to speak up. Before I was in a union I didn’t want to be. But now I’m in the union and I see how a union improves everything, including better salaries and benefits. I tell my co-workers, we’re all union members, whether you like it or not. So go to the meetings. Find out what there is to know. Get active. We all play a part in supporting each other and making sure we are treated fairly, because together, we all are the union.