Ruby Sierra fights for her coworkers like they’re family
St. Joseph Hospital Surgical Tech Rubalit “(Ruby”) Sierra is very family oriented.
“I like to hang out with my mom and do family dinners. Every weekend we’re either doing a carne asada or eating dinner together,” says the mom of two kids who was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, and grew up in Humboldt County.
Ruby sees her coworkers as family, too.
“We’re spending 40 hours at work. I spend more time with them than with my own family, so I see my coworkers as my family too,” she said.
In early 2021, Ruby switched departments and saw that the hospital was breaking the union contract by sending her coworkers home early when the hospital census got low, or not following seniority rules when sending people home. She decided it was time someone defended the family.
Ruby became a steward and has made it a priority to advocate for her coworkers and help them advocate for each other. She has spoken up and filed grievances management sought to violate the contract and answered any questions her coworkers have about their rights.
“I give them some security,” she said. “They feel they have someone they can talk to.”
One of her major achievements came when she was able to secure back pay for a coworker who had been put in a supervising role while covering for someone on medical leave.
“She was not getting paid extra for that,” Ruby learned months later. “We filed a grievance and she was compensated for working all those hours.”
She saw her coworker’s morale go up after that, which gave Ruby a sense of accomplishment as well.
“I was just happy that she felt supported and she got compensated for a situation where she was working really hard,” Ruby said.
Ruby’s work as a steward has also earned her the respect of her new manager, who sought Ruby’s help when crafting a new 12-hour schedule.
“My manager has been very good in that she asks me to make sure we’re following the union contract,” she said. “I’ve shown her that all we want is to make sure things are fair.”
And fairness, she said, is what she’s always striving for.
“Sometimes if you see something that’s not right, it’s up to you to speak up. It’s about being fair and equal. If you see something’s not fair, and you don’t speak, you’re just as guilty.”