Rhonda Carter, Patient Care Associate, Local 420
“The more I get involved with my union, the more I grow.”
I am a Patient Care Associate at Kings County Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Outpatient Clinic.
The clinic handles orthopedic, neurology and neurosurgery. Patients are here for knee replacements or other bone issues; some have epilepsy or migraines, or even trauma from gunshot wounds. They come for post-operative care.
I check patients’ vital signs such as blood pressure, pain scale, and more. I explain follow-up appointments and rehabilitation. Seniors really appreciate my help.
Patients are in pain. Their aggression is not intentional. I try to explain things so they understand what’s required to heal.
I used to work for a dentist. I was the receptionist, the clerk. I did everything.
With no union, when work was slow the doctor just sent me home. I had no regular paycheck, no health insurance, and no pension.
One benefit of union membership is everyone has a job to do. We respect each other—all work has value. I have job stability. The union protects me and fights for me. I’ve learned so much through my union. I understand politics better. I get involved.
As an activist, I help my coworkers. I helped a newer member find out about the union’s $800 tuition reimbursement plan, free online college courses through AFSCME, and scholarships offered by the local, DC 37 and AFSCME.
A coworker came to the clinic for knee replacement, but she didn’t have financial clearance. To not miss her surgery date, I helped her get clearance. It took two hours on the phone. She really appreciated that I helped her, as I would any patient. People are happy when you go that extra mile for them.
I belong to CBTU, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. I volunteer at family shelters during the holiday season when we have toy and coat drives in Brooklyn. I also volunteer with the American Cancer Society at the annual Breast Cancer Walk registration booth in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. Breast cancer affects lots of women, and I lost my aunt to cancer, so the cause is close to my heart.
The more I get involved with my union, the more I grow.
I was a Local 420 shop steward for three years, and a CBTU board trustee. I am part of the Next Wave. I learned about the civil rights movement and the sacrifices others made so we could have rights today. It’s eye-opening.
As a Member Activist Team trainee with the union’s Organizing Department, I live to agitate, motivate and help others. I read my union newspaper regularly and share information with anyone who needs it.
This story appeared previously in the June 2017 issue of Public Employee Press.
The DC 347 Blog is an online publication of District Council, AFSCME, which represents 126,000 municipal employees in New York City.