Each week, we’ll share a post getting to know a member of the Guild community. This week, we’re excited to get back into our series with Dayana Ocasio, returning Guild School student and Membership Assistant at the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA)!
“One of the many reasons why I attend the Labor Guild classes is that I have a lot of questions. I know there’s more than what the media tells us. I want a different perspective and knowledge base of what is happening in the world. I don’t want tunnel vision of bias information. That’s why I go to classes. We have so much to learn if we broaden our horizons and learn from the experiences of others.” – Dayana Ocasio
Dayana’s excitement for the labor movement comes from her engagement in her community and her love of interacting with people and building relationships. Dayana worked in the health industry in Brockton as a medical assistant at the Brockton Hospital for many years before she came to the MNA in 2006. That is when her journey into the labor movement began. She now works in the membership department at the MNA and is always eager to help other divisions like legislation and organizing.
Dayana’s involvement in MNA’s political organizing grew out of the activism she does in her community of Brockton, where she has strong ties to community leaders and members. When she started working at MNA, she missed the person-to-person interaction she had in Brockton, so when a friend asked her to get involved with the Coalition for Social Justice she did. Dayana has since been involved in organizing in support of many different campaigns, like President Obama, Senator Warren, and Senator Markey’s elections. She has also worked on several ballot initiatives in Massachusetts, including the fights to stop the power plant and create green programs in Brockton, and traveled to California to assist in an organizing campaign with NUHW (National Union of Health care Workers) during their election campaign with SEIU 1199.
Labor education is a major focus for Dayana. She attended the U-Mass Boston’s Labor studies program and took courses such as Workers of the World. She learned about the labor movements in many other countries, and completed the program with an independent study focused on how to engage and motivate union members to be more active. Dayana graduated with a certificate in Labor Leadership and she continues her education by taking classes at the Guild, which she has been attending for the past 2 years. She hopes to use her knowledge to improve her community through activism and to grow in her position at the MNA, by helping nurses in their movement to improve healthcare for patients and create safe working environments for nurses.
Dayana is secretary of the executive board of her union, made up of division assistants at MNA. She and her fellow union members have negotiated a pension plan, a contract, and provided resolutions for working responsibilities. Dayana has utilized her Guild education throughout the process.
Two of the most beneficial classes she attended at the Guild were Paul McCarthy’s course on negotiations and Lisa Field’s class on women in the labor movement. Dayana says, “I hear Paul’s voice in my head every time I sit with my union members to discuss contract proposals: ‘Negotiations start with your union members!’” Dayana also enjoyed Lisa’s class on women in the labor movement because she appreciated getting to hear perspectives from women in the building trades and throughout history. “I realized how much women have in common in the work place no matter where you are,” says Dayana.
Dayana’s favorite aspect of the Guild is getting to know people from so many different parts of the labor movement, and connecting in a way that makes an imprint: learning new information and building relationships.
The Guild is lucky to have a student and community activist like Dayana!