After 38 years with the New York Police Department, I retired in February 2017.
I was a Senior Police Administrative Aide in the 33rd precinct in Washington Heights since 1994 where I was responsible for crime analysis, reviewing complaints and classifying them as homicides, shootings, break-ins, noting any trends detectives and commanding officers should know about.
A friend invited me to my first union meeting in 1988. I had questions I wanted answered, so I went.
I became a Local 1549 shop steward and, later, a delegate. I shared information with my coworkers because not everyone can attend every union meeting.
This year I was invited to become a Volunteer Member Organizer. It gives me purpose to visit worksites and talk to members about the importance of belonging to a union.
I share my story with members I meet. When I retired, I found out benefits don’t kick in immediately. I needed a prescription medication and was shocked when the pharmacist told me it costs $400. That’s a big expense I had always gotten for no cost, thanks to my union. We cannot take our benefits for granted.
Some members don’t know all our union provides — legal services, Personal Service Unit for counseling, health coverage and prescriptions, test prep, free college, credit counseling, and more. I hope to help members grasp a fuller picture of what a union does for them and the community.
It is crucial to get the word out. I talk to hundreds of union members and people on the street each week about the Constitutional Convention—how it could take away our pensions and union protections. So many don’t realize that changes can be made to our pensions. Most members admit they have never heard this before and so they are receptive and listen. —As told to Diane S. Williams