Hietamaki a trail blazer in labor relations, politics

Although no one we know keeps track of such things, the phrase “trail blazer” certainly is among the most misused and overused these days.

But without reservation, we believe it applies to Carolyn Hietamaki, the head of the Marquette County Democratic Party who passed away at her home in Gwinn on June 21.

Hietamaki, 66, was a registered nurse and a leader in the Michigan Nurses Association, chairwoman of the MCDP and secretary of the 906 Dems. She also was a leader in the labor community and a member of the Upper Peninsula Labor Hall of Fame

State Rep. Sara Cambensy, D-Marquette, spoke for a lot of people when she opined that Hietamaki “was the No. 1 advocate for our Marquette and U.P. nurses and spent tireless hours fighting for fair contracts and the Safe Patient Care legislation. She was also the current chair of the Marquette County Dems.

“I was proud to march with her in Marquette and also in Lansing, where we stood on the steps of the Capitol with nurses from around Michigan to demand better patient/staff ratios, protection from mandatory overtime and fair wages,” Cambensy said in a Mining Journal story on the matter. “She will be missed by so many of us but never forgotten.”

According to the Journal story, Hietamaki first became a licensed practical nurse and later became a registered nurse. She held numerous positions on the Michigan Nurses Association Board of Directors and served on national RN nursing boards, which led to her being involved in local and regional labor councils.

Hietamaki also was an inductee into the Michigan Nurses Association Hall of Fame, the story stated.

We salute Hietamaki, her career and what she stood for. She was, in fact, a trail blazer.