Unit 15’s Maria Patterson Dares to Care
Long-standing Member Leader Believes in Making Change Happen for Working Families Through Union Power
Whether it’s fighting for better working conditions, developing new union leaders or supporting her community, Maria Patterson, the chair of Bargaining Unit 15, is committed to building union power so all Californians can enjoy a good life.
Maria is a 22-year veteran of state service and works for DGS in Stockton. A lifelong union member, Maria was first represented as a janitor by SEIU 1817. When the state folded those positions into Unit 15, represented by Local 1000, she became a job steward and a District Bargaining Unit Representative (DBUR) in 2007.
“I got active in bargaining issues because I wanted to understand our contract,” Patterson says. “It was clear to me that we needed to fight to improve working conditions, so I stepped up.” Unit 15, the Allied Service Workers, represents custodians, laundry workers, supervising cooks and food service workers.
Her Unit 15 team continues to fight for advances with three statewide task forces. The Food Service Task Force focuses on working conditions and wages for Correctional Supervising Cooks in prison kitchens; the Custodian Task Force is working on statewide application of language governing shoe allowances for Custodians; and an Upward Mobility Task Force is ensuring opportunities for career advancement.
Community matters to Patterson in a big way. She’s a member of a number of regional labor councils and spent six years on the San Joaquin Workforce Development Board providing area youth training and development opportunities as they enter the job market.
“I believe in making change happen through the power of strong, active members in Unit 15 and in our union,” says Patterson. “I do what I do because I dare to care.”