skip to main content

Shop Steward Spotlight: Aisha Burgos

Tell us about your work. What do you do? How long have you worked there?

[AB]: I’ve worked at the Division of Rate Counsel since 2019. I am the Administrative Assistant for the division.  I help the employees and management with all of their administrative needs, providing specialized assistance in the areas of HR, budget, travel, and records management.

Why do you think your work is important/valuable to residents of New Jersey?

[AB]: Our primary role is to represent the interests of consumers in various utility matters, including electric, natural gas, water/sewer, telecommunications, cable TV services and insurance.  We make sure that all utility consumers receive safe, adequate and proper utility service at affordable rates that are just and nondiscriminatory. In addition, the Rate Counsel works to ensure that all consumers are knowledgeable about the choices they have in the emerging age of utility competition.

The work that I do here makes sure that our legal team has the tools they need to fight for the residents and rate payers of New Jersey.

What made you become a Shop Steward?

[AB]: I felt there were some gaps in the needs of members between our work and management, and I thought that I could help members have better relationships with supervision and management, so I stepped up.

What lessons have you learned from your time as a Shop Steward?

[AB]: I have a better understanding of collective bargaining, handling grievances, how to/when to organize site meetings, but most importantly I’ve learned that the power is with the workers. There is strength in numbers, and we are important!

Has being in a union helped work through challenges at work?

[AB]: Being a member of CWA has helped work through so many challenges, like giving members a seat at the table.  It allows members and their colleagues to have a bigger voice on the kitchen table topics and tackle issues that we all care about most.

Why do you think so many people are unionizing today?

[AB]: I think that recent challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic have shined a light on the many gaps in the relationships between employers and employees. So many people felt the strain of increased expectations with minimal payout along with the risk factors associated with the possibility of contracting the virus during that very difficult and strange time.  Covid-19 served as the catalyst that made employees reevaluate their importance and power in the market as a whole. With so many available jobs and less people willing to take the risks, employees gained so much more power and collective bargaining puts even more power back in the hands of employees, giving them more control over their lives.  People also realized that unions focus on more than compensation for workers, they also focus on working conditions making sure that worksites are safe, workers have health benefits, work-life balance, retirement/pension plans, and overall job flexibility to name a few.

Do you have any tips for members considering becoming a Shop Steward?

[AB]: Just do it, and when you do, be a good listener, get confirmation that you understand the issue, take good notes, don’t be afraid, and take the classes offered by the union so that you have as many tools to help members as possible.