Michael Stewart is a medical assistant at Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland, and his passion in life is one thing: taking care of others.

“I’m a people person. I just love people,” he says. “I want to care for people.”

Michael’s dedication to helping others grew out of his own experience as a child struggling with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Now he works in internal medicine at an HIV clinic, but recently completed a two week stint at the University’s COVID-19 ward.

About the experience, he says “Honestly, you’re not thinking about your own safety. You put the proper stuff on, and you use proper techniques. But overall, your entire focus is to take care of that patient. To let them know that they’re going to get good care and that you’re trying to help them as much as you can.”

The impact of the coronavirus stirs Michael’s strong feelings about the value of each individual’s work, of fair treatment in the workplace, and of the roles a union can play in ensuring that treatment.

“Think about how many people who before this pandemic were in jobs that were considered by so many people, especially corporate America, throwaway jobs,” he said. “Such throwaway jobs that people didn’t think deserved a living wage, or health care, or benefits – suddenly they’re essential workers. …All those things drive me to be an MA and be an activist in the union. I mean, you look at what’s happening, and who is the loudest, most consistent voice to take care of people and make sure they’re working under safe conditions? That’s unions.”

Read more about Michael here.