“I am proud to be a nurse and a union member who makes a difference.”

June 2012

Reflections on the 2012 AFSCME International Conference by Valentina Zamora-Arreola, RN, Kaiser Ontario

UNAC/UHCP is an amazing partner in our international union. From Alaska to Puerto Rico, only two unions have grown more than 5% in the past four years. And our national union NUHHCE did that with the members UNAC/UHCP has gained. That is the power we have shared by being involved in OUR union.

It was exciting to see two women from California run for the office of Secretary-Treasurer. But it was AWESOME to see our own president Ken Deitz elected to International Vice President. I was proud to see a male nurse, still a minority in our profession, hold a position that will help to influence health care policy in our union and our country.

I was able to learn so much about the powerful voice we have in our union, and the threats that many of our members are facing. I met as part of a group of healthcare workers across the nation facing the same problems we have with electronic medical records, ratios, patient safety and more. We have more in common than I could have ever imagined. It was amazing to hear the struggles these professionals have overcome by focusing on uniting members to work together on building safer practices.

I also learned that the biggest mistake we can make as a union right now is to get comfortable with what we have negotiated at the bargaining table. We must take our unity at the bargaining table back to the kitchen tables. Not only is our own profession highly dependent on each other, but also our neighbors and our communities. We must actively protect the public services on which so many of our neighbors depend. We can start by talking to our friends about what we do. I am be proud to be a nurse and a union member who makes a difference.