Judy Frazier has been an active member of Local 856 at Eden Medical Center since she and her coworkers first became Teamsters 19 years ago. Judy was a part of the original negotiations team for their first union contract and has been a shop steward since the very beginning.
Read on to learn more about Judy and the special place her patients and all Teamsters have in her heart.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
What do you love about the work you do?
I’ve been an ultrasound tech for 34 years. We do patient ultrasounds in the emergency room, in labor and delivery, and we even help with surgeries in the operating room sometimes. We do a lot people don’t realize. We can essentially ultrasound any soft tissue part of the body (muscles, ligaments, nerves, etc.) and with all the advances in technology, we can see a lot more than we could when I first started.
One of the best parts of my job are the people I work with and our patients. I like helping people and sometimes getting an ultrasound is like therapy for them. Personally, elderly people have a huge place in my heart. I like to go above and beyond for them — whether it’s being there to listen, giving them an extra blanket, whatever they need.
Why did you become a shop steward?
I was originally on the fence about becoming a union member, but I learned more about what it could do for us by speaking to my husband who was a member of Teamsters Local 70. After that, I got more behind it and eventually, my coworkers elected me to be a part of the negotiations team and then to be their shop steward.
You’ve been a shop steward for almost 20 years. What have you learned in that time?
In the beginning, there was definitely a learning curve, but we were able to lean on our business agent (Local 856 representative). There was a lot of trial and error. We’ve built a good rapport with management over the years though, which has helped us in negotiations.
How would you describe the “Teamsters 856 difference”?
Part of the reason we wanted to become union members was that our wages were way lower than our counterparts at other hospitals and because our coworkers in other departments were being fired without cause frequently. Now, we have better wages, rights, and protections through our contract.
I remember at one point in negotiations a few years ago, the managers and non-union employees were starting to have to pay for their medical and they wanted us to do the same. So, our Local 856 representative, Matthew Mullany, slid his business card across the table and told them they could call him if they wanted to join the union. And you know what, they were dumbfounded but we still don’t have to pay for our benefits.
Why are you proud to be a Teamster?
On a personal level, my husband, who was a Teamsters Local 70 member, passed away years ago. I remember learning about the survivor benefits families receive in the event their Teamster spouse or parent passes away while my coworkers and I were negotiating our first Teamster contract. After learning about the benefits, my son was able to receive them retroactively until he was 18 years old. He was able to invest some of that money into college and graduate debt-free. And I was able to work less and spend extra time with him.
I’m proud to be a Teamster because of the history of what our union has done for working people. We’ve always worked to improve wages, working conditions, and benefits and I think a lot of non-union people benefit from the laws we have helped to pass.