Union nurse appointed to number two spot in Oregon AFL-CIO



The Oregon AFL-CIO executive board appointed Sarina Roher to the federation’s number two role in a unanimous vote June 21.

Sarina Roher

Roher, a Kaiser Permanente nurse and executive secretary of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP), was the sole nominee to fill the AFL-CIO secretary treasurer position. That volunteer seat has been vacant since the unexpected death of Aida Aranda in February. Roher’s appointment stands until the Oregon AFL-CIO convention, Sept. 20-23, 2023, in Bend.

Roher, 45, is a lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest. She has lived in Oregon since 1993 and has worked as a nurse for more than 20 years. In the last six years, she’s risen up in union leadership roles with OFNHP, serving as a steward, a team lead and liaison to management, the chair of the professional bargaining unit for Kaiser, and the chair of the union’s social justice committee, which she founded.

As a member of the national bargaining team in 2021, Roher helped bargain mandatory diversity, equity, and inclusion training for all Kaiser employees.

Roher says the union helped her find her voice, hold bad managers accountable, improve workplace conditions, and connect with other workers — and now she hopes to use her position with Oregon AFL-CIO to empower other workers to do the same.

“I feel like this is the next level where I can not only help my local but others,” she said.

She wants to strengthen the state’s labor movement by building solidarity among workers across different trades. Her colleagues say that comes naturally to her.

“She builds the relationships, she leads by example, and what grows out of that organically is solidarity,” said Nicole Brun-Cottan, the vice chair of the OFNHP professional bargaining unit who has worked with Roher more than five years.

Roher spent her first 15 years in nursing in a non-union job at Legacy Health. In 2017, she moved to Kaiser Sunnyside, where she says a run-in with a bully boss led her to seek help from OFNHP. She spent hours combing through the contract with her union stewards to build a case against the manager. When her probationary period ended, she became a steward herself. Shortly after, her manager was asked to resign and never reapply to Kaiser.

“I’d never been exposed to unions before,” Roher said. “Through that experience, I felt really grateful for the processes in the contract.”



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