Do you remember that Verizon wireless commercial? The one where the guy would say “Can you hear me now?” And he would have millions of people behind him. That visual, all of the folks behind this one man asking if he can be heard, has always stuck out in my mind. To me, that perfectly represents what it is like being part of a labor union.
It was 27 years ago that I started working at the NYS Homes and Community Renewal Office of Rent Administration. My coworkers and I process requests for access to public records about apartment buildings, rental histories, and anything else that may be necessary for people looking into where they live or may be considering moving to. This information is essential in many cases to help keep a safe, clean, and comfortable roof over the heads of New Yorkers.
Together with a staff of 12 people who I supervise, we process between 600-700 requests per month. We work hard to do everything in a timely manner and pride ourselves on having a turnover rate of about 20 days on any given application.
About 15 years ago, some of my co-workers invited me to a union meeting they were attending. At the time, my two children were young and my benefits were hugely important for taking care of my family. That meeting made me realize how important it was to get involved with the union and to protect those benefits that we fought so hard to gain. I knew that I had to become involved with the union and do my part in keeping fellow members informed.
Four years ago, I enrolled in the labor studies program offered at Cornell University, which is free to DC 37 members thanks to the union’s Education Fund. The program was a wealth of knowledge that allowed me the opportunity to learn about labor history and how to be a leader in my union.
In 2015, I became a recipient of the Joseph S. Murphy Institute Diversity Scholarship, which granted me a full academic scholarship to continue my studies in labor.
Now in my third term as Recording Secretary for Local 1359, I look forward to continuing representing the union as best I can and helping my fellow members grow on the job.
As long as we stand behind each other, just like in that Verizon commercial, the sky is the limit for what we can achieve. Can you hear me now?