For over a decade Maggie Vega has made it her mission to make sure that UNITE HERE Local 1 and Local 450 members receive the care they need. She goes above and beyond to ensure that union members know what resources are available for any needs they may have.
“I’m not doing anybody a favor,” Maggie said about her work. “These are their rights. This is what they’ve worked for. These are their rights as union members.”
Reflecting on her years with UNITE HERE Health, she shared a few stories of members who turned to Maggie and her staff for guidance.
One man walked into the Health Fund offices after his wife was shot and killed in her garage at their home looking for help. It was around Easter and he had children. He was devastated about the loss of his wife. Maggie was able guide him to find the support and therapy he needed.
Another member lost coverage and couldn’t pay for care. A Customer Service Representative was able to get the American Cancer Association to pay the premiums for this individual to continue to get the care they needed.
Maggie has connected people with every kind of resource from food pantries to suicide help hotlines. She taught her staff to go above and beyond for union members just as she does.
One man, who had a terminal illness, wanted to see his son who lives in China before he passed. A Customer Service Representative reached out to UNITE HERE’s legal fund, the Red Cross, and the Chinese and American Embassies to find a way for father and son to connect. The Representative was able to get the two men to meet and speak through Skype.
After 16 years with UNITE HERE Health, Maggie is retiring. While she will miss her work with union members she is confident that her staff will continue providing the care that she has spearheaded.
“I know the staff is going to continue to do what I have taught them,” Maggie said. “They have big hearts.”
Maggie opened the Chicago office for Locals 1 and 450 to help over 9,000 working people in the area get access to the health care they have earned. It grew from a one-person show to the full service office it is today – “It’s what people really deserve,” she said.
Maggie’s own father was a HERE member, working as a waiter. And, her uncle and godfather were HERE members, too. She deeply understands the impact of simply knowing your rights and what the available are resources can have on a family.
“You have to love to help people. You have to love union people. Union people are special,” Maggie said. “This must have been my path to be with the union.”
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