Debby Cruz, RN
Unit: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
Health Care Professional Since: 1989
UNAC/UHCP Member Since: 2008
“We cannot create change without unity. I am stronger with other RNs behind me when I stand up for our patients and for better working conditions.”
As a young mother, I had to choose a career before I’d had time to think about what I wanted to do with my life. One day, I saw a commercial for career training with a nurse in a white uniform. I was persuaded instantly! It seemed like a field I could enjoy because I would be able to help people. I started off as a medical assistant, later became an LVN, and then eventually went to school for my RN degree. The more contact I had with patients, the more I wanted.
My unit at Parkview has always felt like a family. I had a lot to learn as a young nurse and my fellow RNs were my able teachers. They made me feel welcome. To this day we continue to be a close knit team and share that spirit with new RNs that join us.
I’ve worked at Parkview for 19 years now. It is the first hospital I have been employed by that had a union. I became a UNAC/UHCP activist when they first began organizing at Parkview. I knew we needed to improve our working conditions when Deirdre Kirkwood, one of our colleagues, was fired. Even though I have always been a vocal person, I was scared just like everyone else. I had never heard of at-will employment and didn’t know that California law makes it possible to get fired without cause. Our only protection was to form a union.
As a UNAC/UHCP member, I have a sense of security I never had before. I am no longer afraid and speak up when necessary to make sure our patients receive the best care possible. As an affiliate, we continue to adapt to our new union environment. We work with our nurses to make sure their rights are protected, as guaranteed under the contract. I am proud of my union and wouldn’t want to work anywhere without UNAC/UHCP representation.
We cannot create change without unity. I am stronger with other RNs behind me when I stand up for our patients and for better working conditions. I recently went to the UNAC/UHCP Convention and was impressed by the solidarity I saw throughout the event among all of the Union’s affiliates. I know I am a part of something important and special that has changed my life for the better.