I AM a Zoological Park Maintainer at the Central Park Zoo. I’ve worked here for 10 years fixing stone, painting and plastering and maintaining the grounds of this incredible zoo.
People come from all over to visit us on famous Fifth Avenue and we want them to have a very good experience.
I believe that employees should be treated fairly and improving relationships between supervisors, managers and employees is key. When overtime was assigned to workers with less seniority, I spoke up. I put everything in writing and met with managers and Human Resources, and we worked it out so that overtime is assigned according to seniority like the union contract says.
After I became shop steward, I met with my coworkers to explain what a shop steward does, how to resolve issues and have a safer workplace.
I attended shop steward training and read up on labor law. I read the Troublemakers’ Handbook and information online by Workers’ Rights Press. It came in handy when we needed help with the mail-runs differential.
People were assigned to drive mail between the Central Park and Bronx zoos but were not being paid the differential for their extra work. The local worked to have management reinstate that practice and as shop steward I played a part.
When a manager was doing electrical work at corporate events—overtime assignments that should go to Local 1501 members—we stood together and now unionized employees get that assignment and the overtime pay that comes with it.
It’s about protecting members’ rights on the job; otherwise the lines get blurry fast.
Unions stop exploitation by managers who will have us do work we’re not supposed to do. Unions stop retaliation that may come if you complain about management and they come after you.
I remind my coworkers: You have a right to speak up if you feel you are being exploited. The union has your back.
I talk to my coworkers, I tell a joke or two so they feel at ease.
If you show up for the union, DC 37 will show up for you — that’s what union solidarity is.
We had 37 members attend our first meeting. That’s a good turnout, a good start.
The best way we can improve our jobs is to talk to and listen to each other. Then we can work together.