Member profile: Shannon Signer, Santa Rosa Memorial
Previous experiences in retail and as a preschool teacher taught Shannon Signer two things: you can’t be shy and you need to advocate for those having a hard time.
Her retail work also offered important lessons about how workers can be exploited when they “have no voice, no say, no contract,” Shannon said. “You’re always being used and abused by management.”
That’s why she was so excited seven years ago when she got a union job as a radiology tech at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. “Now I feel protected,” she said.
And, so do Shannon’s coworkers thanks to her work as a union steward, a role she sought to help deal with a bad manager.
The manager bullied workers and played favorites when it came to holiday schedules, but Shannon’s efforts helped end that, and she hasn’t stopped advocating for her colleagues.
For instance, when the Covid pandemic was at its highest, the hospital shut the urgent care area where she works, and her colleagues were only working two-to-three days per week. To get more hours, Shannon pitched the idea of properly organizing and cleaning the areas, which they never had a chance to do. “We cleaned, straightened up and put everything in order,” she said. The work gave them enough to do to fill their schedules.
When per-diems were called to work and the hospital would send them home after an hour, she demanded that they be paid for four hours of work, as required by the contract. The issue went all the way to HR, but Shannon and her colleagues prevailed.
When ergonomic changes on their computers had a negative impact, Shannon drafted a letter detailing her coworkers’ complaints and got everybody to sign it. Management didn’t respond right away, but Shannon persisted and “finally got somebody to come in and reevaluate.”
Behind all these actions is a genuine desire to improve people’s lives.
“I do like helping others, especially when they don’t feel they have any power,” she said. “When I became a steward, I wanted to let people know we have power, we can voice our opinion and we’re protected.”