Kenya Turner, Harbor-UCLA Union Steward: “The Most Important Thing Is Having Initiative”

Kenya Turner knew it was her turn to step up and become an SEIU 721 Union Steward last year when LA County was still in the grip of the first wave of the COVID pandemic.

“We didn’t have a direct representative for the technicians,” said Turner, who has worked at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center for the past 16 years. “We were part of medicine at one time and then we were kind of muscled into nursing. That was because we didn’t have anyone to represent us.”

Though Turner was employed as a Nurse during her first year at the hospital, she has worked as a Cardiac Electrodiagnostic Tech I there for the past 15 years. Over time, she noticed that healthcare technicians at Harbor-UCLA didn’t have a strong voice.

“Nurses have support. Doctors have support. Every entity of providing health care needs to have some kind of support group to provide the best care for their patients,” Turner explained. “We all have concerns on our ability to provide patient care and work as a team. We should all be able to work together but we all need specific support because our positions are different. Our duties are different. Our expectations are different. But we all have one thing in common – care for the patient.”

For healthcare technicians, Turner feels that, “What’s really important is that we’re acknowledged for our skills. We all want to promote – there’s Tech 1, Tech II, Tech III. But there’s not much incentive to being able to promote like a Nurse, like an X-Ray Technician, like Phlebotomy. We seem to have a struggle in promoting and being acknowledged for higher skills.”

So she’s hoping to help her fellow healthcare technicians take greater control of the situation by working with the union – a path Turner herself took on her journey to becoming a Union Steward.

“I took the initiative because I was familiar with my rights,” Turner explained. “I had to file complaints in the past. I learned from my mistakes and I learned from management’s mistakes. So now people come to me for this kind of information. Being a steward was a natural fit. The most important thing is having initiative. EKG technicians don’t know their rights. Respiratory, Phlebotomy, X-Ray may be different. I gave out MOU books to those that were curious and concerned about their rights. Until you read it – it’s like education, if you’re not educated on certain things, you don’t know. It’s important to know your rights.”

Categories: Los Angeles County