Learn your rights, find your voice

My name is Tondalya Thomas and I have worked at the Cook County Recorder Deeds Office for over 20 years. I have been a steward for 2 years. I have known about the union since I first started in this position but I was much younger then and I didn’t see a need to be active. I’m older now and my needs at work have changed. I’ve become more opinionated about making sure those needs are met.

I have always been a very vocal person, but now that I’m a steward I want to be vocal about making sure other members aren’t being treated unfairly. I want them to know how to stand up to management and fight for their needs too.

I have always been a very vocal person, but now that I’m a steward I want to be vocal about making sure other members aren’t being treated unfairly. I want them to know how to stand up to management and fight for their needs too.

I used to be in a position that was classified as management and I didn’t have union rights. I didn’t like the way upper management treated me. I was often being used to fill the responsibilities of 4 or 5 other people, but never received the proper compensation for it. I realized that management compensated whoever they wanted. I found out that many more of my coworkers were frequently working out of their job descriptions as well. It was then that I decided to learn more about my union contract and realized that management had been breaking many policies in our CBA. Later, I petitioned for my position to also be a union position and began speaking up for fair compensation for everyone at my workplace.

My advice to the younger me is that time flies and you can’t just live for now. You have to live for the future. No one told me what my union dues were going towards before, but I never bothered to ask. Now I tell people, “You are paying for this, find out what’s going on, learn your rights, find your voice."

My advice to the younger me is that time flies and you can’t just live for now. You have to live for the future. No one told me what my union dues were going towards before, but I never bothered to ask. Now I tell people, “You are paying for this, find out what’s going on, learn your rights, find your voice.”

I’m currently working as a member organizer at Local 73 and focusing on Chicago Parks District employees and Chicago Public Schools employees to convert to them to full membership and educate them on what’s coming down the pipeline with Janus and policies being pushed by Governor Rauner. I know that it is up to me to educate and inspire people to make them see that a change is going to come.

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