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My Union Rep Told Me that He Just Couldn't See the Racism that I was Complaining About



What is the name of your union?

I am a member of one of the largest nurse unions in the country.


How long have you been a member of your union?

14 years.


"My union rep appeared to be discouraging me from raising my complaint as a racially motivated complaint".

Has your rep ever represented you on an issue pertaining to race discrimination? If yes, can you explain what your case was about?

Yes, I attempted to raise a grievance because I was being bullied; I knew this was a racial issue based on my experience of being a Black Nurse. My union rep (who was a white man) did not see the racism and he told me that it will be difficult to prove, my union rep appeared to be discouraging me from raising my complaint as a racially motivated complaint. I decided to go ahead with it alone and lodge a complaint regardless. Unfortunately, exactly one week after I raised the issues, I was suspended.


"I feel the support would have been better if the union rep had a deeper understanding of racism and how it is undercover".

What was your experience with your representative? Ultimately, do you think they represented you well?

From our initial conversations, it was clear to me that my union representative wasn’t on my side. He encouraged me to discuss the bullying but not the racial bullying, stating that this is difficult to prove as this was not verbal racism. I didn’t feel that changing my union rep was even an option at the time because I was too stressed and worried. I feel the support would have been better if the union rep had a deeper understanding of racism and how it is undercover.


He seemed to understand the fact that the manager was not treating me well by not communicating with me, excluding me, alienating me and speaking down to me, but my rep did not seem to believe my concerns of racism. He told me that he just couldn’t see the racism that I was complaining about. My union rep lacked empathy and I did not feel supported.



This experience is based on true events and the account is kindly submitted by Anonymous.



We encourage black nurses to contact Equality 4 Black Nurses if you receive an allegation from your employer. We will help you to write a factual statement and show you how to demonstrate your nursing competence and skills during responding to the allegations. Oftentimes, emotions are running high and Black nurses might respond in a way that can be used against them unintentionally. As a Black nurse, people often see the worst in us, we sometimes are disbelieved and the system was not made for us. If you have found yourself in this predicament, please try not to worry, get in touch with us via our website or our social media accounts and we will support you.


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