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Member Profile: Benjamín Maldonado


Every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, San Rafael Healthcare & Wellness Center janitor Heber Maldonado meets with friends to play soccer at a local park near his home. 

It’s just a friendly game to have fun and release the stress from work, said the 57-year-old native of Guatemala, who plays in the midfield, organizing attacks and defenses. 

That’s also what he does at the job he’s held for 36 years, where as a steward, Maldonado leads coworkers in standing up for their rights and winning the strongest-possible contracts, as he did recently. 

“Being part of a union has helped me a lot,” Maldonado said. 

That help was most important more than a decade ago when he was fired after being approved for a bereavement leave following the death of his sister. 

“The supervisors told me he would cover for me, but then they let me go,” Maldonado said. “Thankfully, when I was talking to him, there was a dishwasher and a cook present. They stood up for me, and we fought for two years before I won the case.”

That experience cemented his belief in the benefits and protections that come with unions and led him to become a steward soon after his reinstatement. 

Union representation, he said, continues to be vital today at the Brius Healthcare-owned skilled nursing center in Marin County, where workers recently ratified a new agreement with 8 percent raises over two years. 

The contract also includes bridge toll reimbursements and additional bereavement leave, the issue that first got Maldonado involved in his union.

Maldonado was at the forefront of those negotiations. 

“A lot of administrators tell me to leave the union; that I’m only wasting my money (on union fees), but there’s a lot of need for representation here,” he said. 

More than anything, in terms of job security, which is always an issue at the facility. 

“They say that if we leave the union, we’d get paid more,” said Maldonado. “I don’t believe it. They might pay us more, but three months later, we’d all be out of a job.”

“With us in a union, they can’t do that.”

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