Pat Bailey Wins Laurie Merta Award

Surrounded by friends and colleagues, Pat Bailey was awarded the Laurie Merta Steward of the Year Award. The ceremony took place June 1st at the Rise Up conference.

The award is presented to a shop steward who has “demonstrated outstanding skills to help members and build up the union in the workplace.” Bailey fits the bill.

“I’ve seen her drop everything to listen to someone,” said Jade Monroe. “Immediately she’s very caring.”

Bailey is the chief shop steward for WFSE Local 872, which represents workers at the Lacy Department of Ecology. She is mentoring nine new stewards, served on the 2018 bargaining team, and has helped countless members through struggles at work.

“She is a mentor in addition to balancing an already busy workload,” said Monroe. “Pat was instrumental in having me feel comfortable to step up in leadership. She’s good at identifying people who have the necessary skills without them seeing it in themselves right away.”

Bailey is working to build a legacy. She wants to leave behind a sustainable structure for stewards, building their skills and encouraging them to develop specialties, like reasonable accommodations or working with the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Being chief steward comes with considerable challenges. “I think the emotional piece is the hardest,” said Bailey.  

“There are people who are unjustly treated, and that’s what led me to become a steward. Those people are under emotional stress every day that carries through to their families.”

But when things get tough, Bailey perseveres, drawing strength from the knowledge that her work has impact. “I’m making a difference somewhere, supporting a person who needs someone to talk to, someone to help counsel them. The reward is how often people stop me in the hall and thank me and my other stewards.”

Bailey was deeply touched to have her work honored with the award. “It’s probably the achievement of my lifetime,” she said quietly. “It’s really humbling.”

She’s passionate about the difference union membership makes. “Without the union,” Bailey said, “it’s too easy for someone to silence another individual, whether it’s a cry for help or a cry for unity. By not having a union to support each other, we don’t have a voice.”