I have been employed with the Chicago Park District for 10 years and have been a trained Local 73 steward since June of 2017. My co-workers nominated me to be their steward and I was honored to take on that responsibility. For many years I felt like I played that role by simply being who I am.
Since I became active in the union I have noticed positive change. The leadership has changed which means that the way membership responds to the union has also changed. I have noticed that the union is more present at CPD southern region worksites. Members have noticed that there are more stewards and they show out for more than just election days. I think all this change was brought about by simply having more open lines of communication between union leaders and the members. I know for a fact that people really appreciate that.
CPD management has also taken more notice of the union presence. When we became more active, managers stayed on their toes. When there’s a problem, it’s now more likely that we can settle it in sit down meetings with management and not even have to file a grievance. I’ve only filed one grievance in three years and to me that shows that we’re being an effective union shop.
Right now as an active union member I am also on a new Local 73 committee, the Committee on the Future. We’re a group of workers charged with looking at the suspended Constitution and By-laws, finances, and how to build and exercise member strength. The committee will make recommendations about how we’re going to structure the union for the future. Once we do that, we will share our recommendations with the entire membership for approval and then make a recommendation to the president of SEIU, Mary Kay Henry, about going back to self-governance.
I am doing my part to build a foundation for the future of the union. Thinking towards the future is important because I believe that we must always remain vigilant in our quest to preserve the rights of working men and women. If we don’t grow stronger and think towards the future, our rights can be taken away from us.