Desert Edge Magazine

Steward Michel Ordonez advocates for her co-workers like they’re family

Michel Ordonez started working in the industry 30 years ago in Payless’ cosmetology department.“Remember when we had those?” she said with a laugh.

One day, her manager said the store needed help in the pharmacy department. After a few days, he told her not to go back to cosmetology, and she’s been a Pharmacy Tech ever since. Ordonez still works at Rite Aid 5730 in Menifee.

Looking back on her career, she reflects on how some things have changed, but other things have remained the same. “We were first Payless, then Thrifty and then Rite Aid — and now, apparently, Albertsons!” she said after reading the news of Albertsons acquiring Rite Aid that morning.“ The one constant is our union,” Ordonez said. “It’s our family.” “We take care of each other because we’re all in this together,” she added.

She was asked to become a steward during the last round of negotiations with Rite Aid. Her Union Rep noticed she was both communicative and diplomatic.“ She asked me to step up to help and I did,” Ordonez recalled. “I just can’t believe that was three years ago. Where did the time go?” As a steward, she serves as an advocate for her coworkers and takes an extra effort to document things that happen in the store. When problems occur, she contacts her Union Rep to discuss the situation to get things solved correctly and efficiently.

The contact with Rite Aid expires in July and members are preparing for a new round of negotiations.Ordonez has a message for other members: “Stick together and fight for what is right and what we want in the contract.” “The biggest challenge ahead will be fighting for our health insurance,” she said.“I’m so thankful we have the insurance we do. So many people don’t have anything near what we have.“Don’t get me wrong,” she continued. “The guaranteed wages are great, but health insurance is so important. Especially for anyone who has kids, like me!”Ordonez and her husband, Alfredo, have two sons: Alex, 17, and Andrue, 24.

In her spare time, she likes to travel and hike — as long as it’s near water. Her “three boys” are avid sport fishermen.“ They do all the work to catch the fish and I like to relax on the water,” she said. “They like deep-sea fishing and they’ve recently gotten into lobster trapping, which is really good for me. I love lobster!”