Later this week, on December 4, Rita Robinson will be retiring from Open Cities after 33 years as a Dental Assistant. Rita has been a leader in the union from the very beginning. In the early 90s, she and two others reached out to form the union when the facility used to be Model Cities.
“It was exciting forming the union, the things we were seeing just didn’t seem right. I noticed people would work for a year and then they would go on to something else. A lot of us liked our jobs and we wanted to stay there and it was time for management to change. People weren’t getting raises, weren’t getting breaks, or going to lunch. I said, no I like working here, if they did better we could stay.”
Rita has been fighting every year since, continuing to serve on the bargaining committee and
becoming a steward a year after the first contract. She says overall being a steward has been good, with ups and downs, lots of grievances and arbitrations. Rita even had to fight for her own job at one point, “I had to use the union myself, I was fired after being there for 25 years, and thankfully my union stood by me and I got my job back. Some people probably would have given up but I hung in there. I had faith in [the union] and they had faith in me.”
Throughout her time as a union steward and leader Rita always appreciated the leadership from the union, “they helped my work experience be better.”
When thinking about the future of the union at Open Cities and advice she has for new members she said, “you guys need it, you guys need to stick together and don’t let them run you away. If you like your job, stay there, fight for it… sometimes you lose faith as the process takes a while, but people have to hang in there, we have a contract and we have to know our rights.”