WALK IN MY SHOES–Brian Jerlin, UA Local 376, Norfolk, Virginia

WALK IN MY SHOES–Brian Jerlin, UA Local 376, Norfolk, Virginia

Union Brother since 2005, Brian Jerlin fondly remembers being selected at age 17 to begin apprenticeship in a new program called Public Works Center (now Naval Facility Engineering Mid-Atlantic). With a desire to excel and motivation to learn, Brian was the first Pipefitter to finish this state wide program. Brian shared very matter-of-factly that as a youngster, he was hot tempered, a fighter and loved a challenge. He smiled  as he thanked his mentor, Brother Steve Newsom for his wisdom, patience and guidance. Brian stated that his mentor took a sincere interest in his aspirations. Brian wants those currently in apprenticeship programs to know that hard work pays off. “Always show up on time with a willingness to learn. Treat each other with respect. Be committed to do the work. Set goals. Encourage each other. Always remember that every problem has a solution. Be willing to search for the knowledge.” Brian continued, “our union brothers and sisters learn by doing – together.” In 2014, Brian was elected President of United Association (UA) Local 376 in Norfolk, Virginia. Brian stated that in addition to the duties and responsibilities that come with being a Union President, he loves working side by side with his brothers and sisters. “That’s how you get to know each other.” Brian stressed that as President of Local 376, he trusts his representatives. “From the Steward on up – each union member has a voice – use it. Your opinion matters. Show up to the meetings and immerse yourself in your local union.” Through his leadership, Brian stated, “we identify and address concerns before they become issues.” Even...
Walk in My Shoes–Anthony von Dessauer, HAYWARD, CALIF., CWA LOCAL 9412, AT&T TECHNICIAN

Walk in My Shoes–Anthony von Dessauer, HAYWARD, CALIF., CWA LOCAL 9412, AT&T TECHNICIAN

I am a third generation communications worker. I may not be as eloquent as others, but I understand that the roof over my family’s head, the food in their bellies, and the clothes on their back are there because those who came before me fought hard and sacrificed to ensure that we all receive the rewards that we earned. Now it is my turn, to carry the torch and continue the fight. Union is not about what can be done for me, but what I can do for...

Walk in My Shoes–Jerry Harris, CWA Local 7818 Shop Steward

Does Your Union Buy Union? I am the shop steward at a CWA Local  7818 represented print shop in the Inland Northwest. The company, Lo-Go, prints banners, stickers, decals and does embroidery and silkscreen. We also manufacture specialty items like tote bags, bandanas and other special projects to fulfill Union made/Union printed requests. We started making our own items in-house because we were having a hard time sourcing union-made, American-made products. We thought manufacturing these products in-house would bring us the support of local area unions looking to ‘buy-union,’ but instead we’ve seen far too many unions choose the non-union route. If we can’t rely on our local unions to buy-union then why be a union company. I urge you as union members and leaders to seek out union-made in the USA products and services. Changes have got to be made not only for us but for all of the smaller union shops out there that are struggling. If a Union logo is printed, it had better have been printed by a Union shop — period. If a politician is receiving Union contributions, they must use Union labor — period. Members need to be educated on what to look for  — if they are wearing items showing their Union solidarity, they need to know that what they are wearing has been made in the USA and printed using Union labor — period. We hear from many sources that American made items are very hard to find. Call us! We can find what is needed or we will make it! Please contact us at lo-go.sales@live.com with any comments or...
Walk in My Shoes–Joli Tokusato, Hotel Worker, Unite Here Local 5, Hawaii

Walk in My Shoes–Joli Tokusato, Hotel Worker, Unite Here Local 5, Hawaii

Aloha! I’ve been a hotel worker and UNITE HERE Local 5 member for 24 years. I’m NOT a politician and I never dreamed of running for office, but I did it! When I was first asked to run for a seat on the Honolulu City Council, my first thought was, “That’s crazy!” I’m not a politician! I don’t look or talk like them. I get my hair done at Supercuts and drive an old Ford. I’m not “connected,” I don’t have a fancy degree, and I definitely don’t have money. But I thought about it. Why not me? I’m definitely more of a LEADER than they are. While our politicians bend over backwards for developers who come to “invest” in our islands, I’ve been organizing and fighting for good jobs at my hotel, the Ilikai, and in the community. Honolulu has become a town run by corporations and developers who have no aloha for the local community. So I ran. We got nearly 20% of the voters in my district. Not enough to win outright, but enough to demonstrate that a worker like me can run a viable campaign and force the politicians and the media to take notice. We knocked on over 30,000 doors, and 5,000 voters joined us in less than 40 days! We’re on to something big. We are beginning to build a real worker movement. Hawai’i...
Walk in My Shoes–Loris Hawkins COOK, WHEELOCK COLLEGE UNITE HERE LOCAL 26

Walk in My Shoes–Loris Hawkins COOK, WHEELOCK COLLEGE UNITE HERE LOCAL 26

I have worked as a cook for Sodexo at  Wheelock College in Boston for 11 years. Last year, we organized a union and won our first contract. Today I proudly say that my workplace has been totally changed for the better and that the Union gave us tools to fight for our rights and dignity. My life is a lot less stressful knowing that I will have great health insurance soon and that I’m being paid much fairer wages than before. I finally feel like I can afford a 401k and I’m more confident than ever about building a solid base in my life. I’ll be able to rent an apartment, finance a car and care for a family, something every hard-working man deserves to be able to do by the age of thirty. I truly am thankful for the Union. My life and the lives of my co-workers will be changed for the better because of the presence of a union in our workplace. We work long hard days preparing and serving meals to the students at the college and they show us that they appreciate it in many ways. My co-workers and myself with the help of UNITE HERE Local 26 have made sure that moving forward Sodexo will show their appreciation in multiple ways...
Walk In My Shoes–Mark Hackbart

Walk In My Shoes–Mark Hackbart

My name is Mark Hackbart.  I work at The Taylor Companies and I am the Chief Union Steward, Steelworkers Local 48U, in Bedford Ohio.  I have been working at Taylor for almost 33 years.  Taylor opened in 1816 and is the oldest office furniture manufacturer in the United States.  We manufacture high quality office desks and chairs for law firms, banks, corporations and union offices.  I am an upholstery cutter.  I cut the jobs out of whatever upholstery covers the customer selects.  If it’s fabric, I match up all the parts for the chair or sofa.  If it’s leather, I check the hide out for scars or defects and cut the parts out to get the best yield out of each hide.  I then put the parts together and give them to the sewing operators so they can sew the pieces together for our upholsterers.  I enjoy my job and my...

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