Sameerah Bond is a CWA Local 1037 Shop Steward and an Agency Service Representative at the Division of Consumer Affairs in New Jersey. As a staff member for the Board of Nursing, Sameerah provides important services by licensing health care professionals to be able to care for the health of the public. Read on to learn more about Sameerah’s work.
Tell us about your job. What do you do?
[SB] – I work for the Board of Nursing. I reinstate, reactivate, renew, and upgrade all Registered Professional Nurse (RN) and Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in the state of New Jersey. We’re one of the biggest nursing boards in the state of New Jersey – handling over 180,000 nurses in the state.
How do you think that the services you provide benefit the people of New Jersey?
[SB] – Well, by issuing licenses to nurses they can be able to work in hospitals to care for patients. Nurses are there to serve the public, and we make sure we review everything before we give them a license. After that, nursing licenses have to be renewed every two years.
During the pandemic when our covid numbers were high, a lot of retired nurses helped out. Governor Murphy signed an executive order to temporarily reactivate the licenses of retired health care professionals so they could assist patients with covid. (This was for health care professionals who had been previously licensed within the last five years). I assisted with reinstating these expired licenses for nurses so that they could care for patients with Covid and bring them back to health.
Many applied, and many of them are still specifically working with Covid patients providing care.
How long have you worked at the Board of Nursing?
[SB] – 21 years and counting.
Has being in a union helped work through challenges at work?
[SB] – Yes. Most definitely.
Why do you think being in a union is good for working people?
[SB] – Being in a union means we have the ability to negotiate from a position of strength with employers over wages, benefits, workplace health and safety, job training and other work-related issues. Unions also serve an important role making sure that management acts fairly and treats its employees with respect.
What have you learned from your time as a Shop Steward?
[SB] – I learned that a Shop Steward takes on a number of roles in the union. You provide leadership in the workplace. You organize coworkers to take collective action. You communicate with workers, union leaders, and management. You educate members about solidarity, justice, and the importance of political and legislative action.
Do you have any tips for members considering becoming a Shop Steward?
[SB] – First thing is that you don’t have to be an expert. You have to know how to delegate tasks. Learn how to listen. Never assume management knows better than you. Pick your fights. Always get back to people. Lastly, you have to be a responsible worker on the job.