A Senior Licensed Vocational Nurse at UCSD Medical Center, Patrick Cullen joined AFSCME 3299 in 2013. This was his first ever experience with a union, and he wasn’t sure what to expect. But as he’s seen the difference in treatment between union and non-union covered workers over the years, Patrick has chosen to become more and more involved.
For Patrick, that choice was not just about meeting the needs of himself and his colleagues as professionals—but as people. There’s a camaraderie with his union siblings that offers a foundation of support –both on and off the jobsite.
Patrick and his husband—who is also a union member– have built a family and established themselves in their community, where they make sure to let other, younger people know how much union support can make a difference. “A union means that we can unapologetically be ourselves without fear of discrimination because of who we love. Most people don’t realize how empowering it is to know that you and your family are supported. And that’s not something that stops when I leave work.”
That same unflinching support that Patrick has felt for his family and in the community has made him even more determined to make a difference at work. One moment that sticks out was two years ago, when he wanted to attend a bargaining session but needed to ask management for time off in order to attend. In his prior non-union jobs, he would have felt pressured and discouraged by management to ask. Yet, as a member of 3299, he felt no fear in speaking up for the chance to stand up for his colleagues in negotiations.
“Being part of a union family, where I’m not just in it for myself, changed everything. Now I’m in it for all of us.”