As the President of SEIU Healthcare Michigan – the state’s largest union of healthcare workers, Marge Robinson made it her mission to ensure that all workers who care for others are heard and recognized for the vital work they do.
She first became a member of SEIU while working at Hackley Hospital as a Unit Secretary 25 years ago. Robinson moved on to Mercy Hospital where she served the Muskegon community for 15 years. It was there, while working full time, Robinson discovered her love of nursing and decided to return to college to receive her Registered Nurse Degree.
As an RN in the Critical Care Open Heart Unit, she was known for being a strong advocate for quality care and sought a position where she could help fellow nurses as well as their patients. She became a steward, then a bargaining team member and eventually the chief steward. With a desire to help people on a larger scale, she became a member of the Local 79 Executive Board and the Hospital Division Director before being elected Secretary-Treasurer in 2002.
Appointed by Governor Granholm, Robinson has served as a member of the Michigan Occupational Health Standards Commission since 2005. She has also served as a board member for the United Way of the West Shore, where she is a member of the allocation committee. She is a member of both the National Nurse Alliance Leadership Board and the healthcare division leadership board. Robinson has held numerous other positions throughout the state including Vice President and President of West Michigan Labor Council and currently serves on the board of the Muskegon Area Labor Management Committee.
Shalaya Bryant, Secretary-Treasurer, SEIU Healthcare Michigan
Caring for others runs in her family — Shalaya always knew that she would someday go into the healthcare field. Her grandmother was one of the first African-American Registered Nurses at Harper Hospital in Detroit and her older sister, Talia is a LPN in a nursing center in Livonia — so when she began her career as a CNA at Aberdeen Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center, it was no surprise. She had already been caring for her father, providing in-home care for him while he suffered from cancer and knew exactly what it took to give people the care they need and the dignity they deserve.
After a manager was disrespectful to her and co-workers at a meeting, she decided enough was enough and got involved more actively in her union to ensure that workers at Aberdeen were treated with common decency. She became a steward and soon after, chief steward — injecting a new energy and optimism into the membership who were being intimidated and put down by management. She lead the fight for a fair contract in her facility and when the call to the SEIU International Convention came, which had a focus on getting more young members involved in their union, she decided to run for delegate. After being elected as a delegate, she attended both the regular and the Millennial sessions and came back even more energized to tackle the challenges faced by HCMI members.
Shalaya was heavily involved in the Right to Work fight in November and December of 2012, acting as a spokesperson for her union and doing interviews with local and national media including CNN. As the youngest Secretary-Treasurer in our local’s history, Shalaya will continue to bring her passion, dedication and commitment to fighting for all workers and rebuilding our struggling communities to the forefront of our union’s work.