Born and raised in the Philippines, Ruth Zolayvar knows better than anyone how important it is to speak up and use your voice. In her home country, she has often seen people who speak up be silenced, sometimes violently.

Immigrating here and joining AFSCME 3299 in 2006, Ruth was almost immediately inspired by her union’s fearlessness and ability to speak out freely. “3299 amplifies our voices, demands our employers’ respect, and protects what’s rightfully ours.”

Ruth Zolayvar, an in-patient pharmacy tech at UC San Diego, on the picket line.

Ruth has had many impactful moments over the years with her union, from her first strike to doing a news interview. The moment that has affected her the most, however, is when during a strike, the son of one of her union siblings came up to her and told her about how their family was struggling since his mother had been laid off, and asked if his mother was going to get her job back. Ruth reassured the boy that they would not give up, and pushed even harder during the strike. The strike was a success, allowing Ruth to keep her promise to that young boy and show him what it means to fight for a better future.

An in-patient pharmacy tech at UC San Diego, Ruth’s patients are a high priority for her. Learning about 3299’s patient protection program, which guarantees that patients will still receive continuous care during a strike, was huge for her. This program gives her the confidence to take action for her rights at work – including to strike if necessary – without having to worry about whether her patients are getting the help that they need.Ruth is very close to her family, spending time with her niece at home, and keeping in close contact with her relatives back in the Philippines, sending them clothes and supplies to distribute to poorer communities. Locally, she volunteers to help the senior citizens in her community. Despite considering herself an introvert, Ruth is always compelled to reach out to those around her.