Monica stares triumphantly into the distance as she holds a picket sign.When you first meet Monica Martinez you notice her quiet and calm demeanor, but she’s anything but. She is a force to be reckoned with; a powerhouse leader not afraid to assert her needs to key UC decision-makers. For the past 21 years, she has had a seat at our bargaining table and knows the contempt UC has toward workers. “We’ve had to negotiate everything that may seem like a given to new workers — sick days, wages, benefits, breaks, basic respect – they all were at one point or another on UC’s chopping block and we’ve protected them,” she says with pride.

That’s why for Monica being a union member is a must.  “The university doesn’t just give things to you out of the goodness of their heart. We have fought for it. Those that came before us have fought for it.” She goes on to say that in her 21 years of being a UC employee and a bargaining team member for 3299, she has seen the progress as a union we’ve made for worker rights, “and it is important to make sure that an institution like the University is held accountable for being equal with everyone; that there is equity.”

Monica’s passion is an extension of her mom, “I would say it’s indoctrination,” she smiles. “My mom was a single mom, and I grew up with her being a very active member of her union and I saw the difference in pay and the things that she did to make her life better.” When she was first hired, it didn’t take long for her to join an action, “I remember I was a month in or something, and we were told we were going down to an action during our break. So I said, ‘Yeah, I can take a break.’ And that’s when my green 3299 path was lit for me.” For her, saying yes was like breathing air, you just have to do it.

She has come a long way since then. She now sits on the Executive Board as the Vice President of the Patient Care Unit and plans to continue to be relentless in growing our union. Monica notes that since the Pandemic there has been an influx of new workers, a lot of them younger who may not necessarily understand what it means to be in a union. “It is up to us to show them our history and to remind ourselves that we must protect and expand to improve on what we’ve won. We can do it, we just have to push forward. Our futures depend on it.”

Monica Martinez is an Administrative Clinical Care Partner at UCLA Medical Center and a single mother to four kids.