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New York is the city that never sleeps. Around the clock, emergencies need responses. Streets need cleaning. Families need care. Students need well-run schools. Our neighborhoods demand safety. That’s why DC 37 members Never Quit.

I am a licensed Associate Respiratory Therapist Level 1 at Woodhull Hospital since 2008.

I treat patients from neonatal to geriatric; they are asthmatics, have COPD, or may have mental health issues or physical deformities. Whoever is in respiratory compromise, I help them breathe again.

I help patients in any situation that affects one’s ability to breathe, the lungs, airways and circulation. The patients I help include the homeless, drug addicts, alcoholics and those unable to pay.

If a patient is crashing as in cardiac arrest, I administer treatment to ease their breathing ability and keep them alive.

In winter months we have a higher pediatric population due to asthma and bronchitis, and more patients in ICU too. Last March during snowstorm Stella, management mandated that we remain at work. Normally I work a 12-hour shift. By law the most I can work is 16 hours. That day my coworkers and I worked over 20 hours straight. Some of us had children at home but we could not leave the hospital.

There were little accommodations made for us. Management should have planned better.

Local 768 looked out for us. They provided us with substantive meals and even transportation home.

If I leave a patient it would be considered abandonment. As a professional, I would never leave a patient—that would be a dereliction of duty.

We weathered the storm and stayed. We could not have done it without help from our union.

It’s unimaginable what work would be like if I did not belong to a union. It’s reassuring to know I am part of a strong organization that works for me, stands with me, and fights for my rights.

Attending union meetings lets me know what’s happening at our sister hospitals. The union keeps me politically aware.

Belonging to a union is liberating. I am not afraid to speak my mind. Regardless of what management tries, there is a process that holds them accountable.

Fear comes when don’t know your contract. Read it and know your rights.