“I enjoy making connections with people, I like talking to members and finding out what’s important to them. I want to give people a voice especially when they don’t think they have one.”
Each week, we’ll share a post getting to know a member of the Guild community. This week, we’re excited to hear from Cara Madarese, Shop Steward and Executive Board member of OPEIU Local 6.
Cara has been a Shop Steward for 12 years, 10 of which have been in the Office of Court Management where she currently works. She initially became a steward at her business managers request. “He saw that I didn’t have a hard time standing up for myself or others […] I don’t like to see people being bullied, I want everybody to have a voice.” She says that issues in her workplace, “Come in waves. Sometimes it can be really good, and sometimes it can be really bad. We are always in the spotlight because we’re in the public sector.” Because of that, “It’s hard, people are afraid they’ll lose their jobs” if they stand up to management.
However, over the years that Cara has been a steward, she says that it has gotten easier to speak up and do her job, and to know that there are people on her side and who are standing with her in her union.
The union like Cara has grown stronger and she has worked to bring others into leadership roles. “What I find to be the most difficult is engaging the members and organizing them. The managers have no problem keeping everyone separated.” To combat the isolation, Cara connects and builds relationships with people in her workplace, and has also encouraged other union members to take on small leadership roles. She keeps lines of communication open with employees in other departments and other court offices in the area.
Cara first learned about the Guild from George Noel, Business Manager at OPEIU Local 6. She says that George has worked hard to bring the union closer together, in part, by educating members and introducing them to the Guild.
Cara began taking classes at the Guild last year, and plans to continue her education. About the Guild, Cara says: “I’m from a clerical union, and there’s a lot of tradesman [at classes]. They come from a different working environment. It’s interesting to hear the different scenarios and situations they’ve experienced and how they have helped correct the problems, especially the situations related to health and safety. Learning from your peers and other students in the class is important.”
For this current term, Cara is taking the classes Next Steps For Stewards: Organizing Around the Grievance Process and Persuasive Public Speaking: Building Effective Presentation and Persuasion Skills.
The second class is outside her comfort zone, but she says, “Rick Reilly is great. I don’t particularly like public speaking, but I find that he gets you into the material. He gets everyone involved. I definitely have challenged myself with this class.”
The Guild is very lucky to have Cara as a student and community member!