Patricia Reyes Speaks Out When ‘Things Aren’t Fair’

Patricia Reyes is a twelve-year union member who was elected as a Steward by her coworkers at Fresh Express in Salinas in 2015 because she is “vocal” she says. “And when things don’t seem fair, that’s when I speak out the most.”

Patricia, who works as a Forklift Loader on the night shift, enjoys the responsibilities that come with the Steward position and is proud to represent and assist her coworkers. While Fresh Express is a long-time union company, management doesn’t always comply with the contract, she explains. “I raise issues with the boss and if nothing changes, I contact my Local 5 Union Rep and together, we work to get things resolved.”

In addition to her normal Steward duties, including welcoming new hires to the union, Patricia has testified on behalf of her coworkers in two successful arbitrations over the scheduling of breaks and meal periods. She has also served on the Local 5 bargaining committee on behalf of the entire workforce of nearly 500 in the last three contract negotiations.

“This is my first union job and I find the negotiation process to be not only interesting but eye-opening,” says Patricia. “It’s our opportunity to improve our working conditions, and we are also able to use it as an education session to let new managers know how the contract works and what our expectations are.”

Patricia was selected as one of Local 5’s Stewards of the Year for 2023.