Rick Balelo: A Voice for those who Need to be Heard
Rick Balelo became a Physical Therapist because it blended two of his great interests, medicine and athletics. He played baseball while studying at UC Berkeley, before braving culture shock for PT school in Oklahoma. He’d never been east of San Diego, where he was born and raised, and where he’s worked at Kaiser for over 24 years. As a Clinic Senior PT, he represented therapists who needed to be heard to management. He will bring that skill to his new role as UNAC/UHCP Staff Representative for the United Therapists of Southern California (UTSC).
Balelo found UNAC/UHCP when Kaiser froze the pharmacists’ pension, after the therapists had already lost ground on wages and benefits. Balelo didn’t want to see the therapists’ benefits in jeopardy. So he became involved in organizing the therapists’ affiliate and served on the team that negotiated their new contract, which secured their pension and benefits, raised their wages and gave them ways of addressing workload and other issues. Balelo and his wife Kim, also a UTSC PT, have four kids: Nick, 21; Ryan, 20; Elise, 18 and Gracie, 11.