Tell us about your work. What do you do? How long have you worked there?
[TG]: I am the Senior Clerk for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (DVRS) in Somerville. I play an important role of being the first point of contact for our clients. We assist clients with disabilities and ensure that they are being treated fairly and with the respect that they deserve. I also help come up with ideas to make our office run more efficiently to better service our clients. I started working for the Department of Labor in December of 2019 in Newark, NJ. I’ve been working in the Somerville office since March of 2022 after receiving a promotion and transfer. My job is very rewarding, and I love what I do.
What made you become a Shop Steward?
[TG]: I wanted to become a Steward because I wanted to ensure that all members were being treated fairly and with the RESPECT we deserve. We’re all people and should be treated with respect regardless of our title, pay, or educational background.
What lessons have you learned from your time as a Shop Steward?
[TG]: I’ve learned many lessons since becoming a Steward, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that we need to advocate for each other. I’ve also learned the importance of having a great relationship/ communication with your manager. Being able to openly address concerns without consequence is imperative to a healthy work environment.
Has being in a union helped work through challenges at the job?
[TG]: Being in a Union has created a safe space for members to speak about their issues without the fear of retaliation or being unfairly reprimanded. Members feel comfortable coming to me about any concerns they may have. You never know what concerns people have until a Union is involved.
Why do you think so many people are unionizing today?
[TG]: Being a part of a Union offers workers protection from being harassed, demeaned, and discriminated against by their employer and co-workers. As we have progressed as a society, we have learned how unique we are as individuals. Our differences should be embraced and not held against us.
Do you have any tips for members considering becoming a Shop Steward?
[TG]: You have to be objective and able to see a situation from all perspectives to make a fair decision. Being able to be unbiased and show empathy when speaking with a member is also important. All members should feel safe and comfortable when speaking to their Shop Steward.