Steward Spotlight: Region 12’s Marlijn Hoogendoorn

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Since 2005, Marlijn Hoogendoorn has worked for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) as a DNA scientist and joined MAPE “right away.” But her union roots run deeper than many: her parents, who are in their 80s, are still dues-paying union members despite being retired for 30 years. 

“Prior to state service, I came from academia. I became a MAPE member right away when I started at the BCA because I come from a big union family,” Hoogendoorn said. “My dad worked for the harbor in my native Netherlands, and he was a union member his whole career.”

As a young girl Hoogendoorn saw firsthand the benefits of being in a union when her father was harassed by his employer after turning down an early retirement incentive.

“When he was in his early 50s, there was an incentive for early retirement and they offered labor workers more to retire early,” she recalled. “He loved his job and wasn’t ready to retire. His employer was worried he’d retire a few years later and that would cost them more money, so they started harassing him and taking his perks away.”

Until he showed up with his union steward.

She remembered another time one of her father’s coworkers was being treated poorly, so all fellow harbor employees went on strike, meaning no ships could be unloaded in the harbor. 

“I wish there was that much solidarity nowadays, but that was a different time and industry,” Hoogendoorn said. “It was never a question to me to become a member of MAPE, and in 2010 I was at one of our local meetings and our then-chief steward brought up union steward training, and I signed up there to be a steward.”

She later became chief steward when her business agent asked her to step into the open role. 

I like being a steward because it feels like the most direct way to help other members,” Hoogendoorn said. “I like being a source of information in addition to helping members facing discipline. It’s empowering and helps empower other people. I like that role and the enforcement of the MAPE contract.”

One of her steward stories that stands out most is the very first investigation she was involved in as a steward.

“I was the second steward and the member lost his job over that investigation and it went to arbitration and after that, the State offered his job back,” she said. “Here I thought all investigations ended like that.” 

It’s no surprise Hoogendoorn has union pride running through her blood. From her upbringing in the Netherlands to being married to a Minneapolis public school teacher who is also a steward for his building.

“I like being a steward. Outside of my job I get paid for, this is one of the most rewarding parts of my work,” she said. “It can be hard, too, and sometimes it feels like a lot, but it’s rewarding and it’s a good way to help out other people.”