During the early days of the pandemic, I found out that one of the people in my office had been exposed to COVID. When I told my manager that I wasn’t feeling safe and wouldn’t come back until the office was thoroughly disinfected, I was accused of deserting my job and threatened with discipline.
Immediately, my organizer sprang into action and made it clear to the manager that it was Kaiser’s responsibility to keep us safe — not put us in harm’s way.
What I love about NUHW is that I know that no matter what time I call, I always get support. I’ve never felt like I was alone.
It’s easy to think that we can go through our careers at Kaiser and never need our union, but the pandemic demonstrated that is wishful thinking.
At The Center for Healthy Living, my coworkers and I initially faced resistance from Kaiser management about working from home. Other unions wouldn’t have pressed the case, but we organized and kept pushing until we won.
When our manager tried to micromanage us and started arbitrarily changing our schedules without our feedback, while we were working from home, we filed a grievance. On that same day, he announced his retirement. However, we later learned that he was transferred away.
Kaiser doesn’t give anything to anyone, no matter what union they’re in.
I’ve learned that a truly strong union doesn’t just show its strength at the bargaining table, it shows it every day on the job.
I’ve also learned that a union’s power doesn’t come from how many members it has, but from how willing it is to support its members and empower them to support each other.
Health Educator (Ret.)
Kaiser Center for Health Living