Marisa Merino Rodriguez is a Member Who is Making Her Voice Heard
When Marisa Merino Rodriguez comes into work at the DMV, a lot is expected of her. As a union member and long-time employee with the state in various departments, she has a lot of knowledge about her workplace. Due to her experience, she’s seeing the same trends that many state workers are identifying: they are underpaid, overworked, and disrespected.
“We need to be able to enforce the rules and regulations of our workplaces equally and fairly,” she said. “It makes you feel like you have no morale left to advance in work. We’re underpaid and fed up. I’m talking with my coworkers who are afraid to speak up and telling them that this is the time we need to stand up and to support ourselves.”
One major issue is the state’s unwillingness to support and train long-time employees, leaving them behind.
“I’ve got a careers experience behind me,” she said. “I have had may jobs throughout the years, and this is one of the most challenging positions I’ve held. It requires knowledge of vehicle codes and homeland security regulations and yet, our pay is comparable to entry level positions at a fast food restaurant.”
Better training and support for workers is something SEIU Local 1000 is fighting for in our next contract with the state, but Marisa knows that this must go beyond just returning workers to the status quo.
“Each year DMV raises fees, yet employees are left behind,” she said. “We are not paid enough even just to keep up with inflation. Aside from not being properly compensated for our duties, our health is at risk on a daily basis, due to high public contact.”
Enforcing our contract starts in the workplace. When state workers like Marisa organize together, management has to respond to issues at work through the protections we have under our contract.
“I’m vocal about my involvement in the union, and I fight for a voice in my workplace,” she said. “When management feels threatened, they begin to push back on our rights, so we have to stand together to win what we need.”
Marisa knows the value of the work every state worker performs. At DMV, from engaging with the public to ensuring that our laws and regulations are fairly applied, the benefits of an engaged and enriched workforce are obvious. What does the state need to do? “I need to be compensated for what I do,” Marisa said. “That would make me feel my worth. We deserve to feel valued.”