Meet Nancy Gutierrez Heth, our new Mendocino Community College Chapter Vice President
What influenced your decision to run for office in your chapter?
My job is so overwhelming with all the growth that has happened that I didn’t feel I had any free time to get involved, but serving as a Negotiator or in a Union office is something that has interested me. When negotiations come up I always wish I was more involved. But I don’t know how it all works. I’m just learning. I thought VP would be an easy office. I’m hoping this will be a good easy way to get my feet wet.
What influenced my decision was someone mentioning, “What if you were to run for Vice President?” and presenting it in a way that made it sound like it was doable. I’ve wanted to get involved for a few years now. This time, when the elections came up, I struggled with whether or not I should get involved. I wanted to, but once again, I wasn’t sure I could add any extra work to my schedule. It was how the role was presented to me that influenced my decision to run.
What kind of change do you want to implement in your chapter now that you are in a position of leadership?
I want to educate our employee group more on the benefits of belonging to a union and how the union works. We have a lot of new staff and I’m sure there are people who are where I was when I first joined the union. Sometimes we are afraid or embarrassed to ask questions like, “Who is a Steward and how does that work?” That is the influence I would like to have, to create a space where people are encouraged to speak up and feel comfortable asking questions.
What are your thoughts on the importance of having a member-led union?
I think about my students when I think about why unions are important. I tell students, I don’t think anyone looks out for us as well we look out for ourselves. We encourage students to speak up and be proactive because no one is going to be as passionate about the things that concern us as we will be. That is why a member-led union is so much better. We’re going to be passionate about what we promote or negotiate because any changes to our employment affect us as well as our families
What are ways you believe other members can get involved or take leadership roles at their worksites?
Attending the meetings is a great start. Not being afraid to get involved in leadership is another way. I think how this year unfolds will depend on how the current leadership presents getting involved to those who may want to get participate in the future.
What is one thing you took away from the process of being newly activated and running for office?
My experience was good. I learned that we are very fortunate to have someone like Patrick Hickey (SEIU 1021 Field Representative) who guided us through the process and who is a great resource to the chapter. It made me really appreciate the work that he does. That is what stood out the most—having Patrick alongside us through the whole process. I know I can go to him with any questions I may have.