Stephen Mittons AFSCME

Stephen Mittons, IL

In my line of work, there is no “typical” day. I have been a child protective investigator in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) for the past 20 years, working in some of Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods to bring children into safer situations.

I spend most of my time on the streets of those communities. My colleagues and I have to make tough calls every day: the decision to remove children from a family for their protection or to refer those families to resources that will strengthen and sustain them to keep them intact.

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Maya Walker

Maya Walker, CA

As the library technician at Hayward High School, I get the opportunity to work with students and teachers every day. It’s my responsibility to ensure that our library has the books, resources and materials that not only help students succeed in school and life, but also reflect the diversity of our students.

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Reagan Duncan

Reagan Duncan, CA

As a Kindergarten and first grade teacher at Maryland Elementary School, I get to work with wonderful students and their families who come from all walks of life. At my school, 89% of our students are English learners, and just as many are low socioeconomic status families receiving free and reduced lunch.

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Kevin Burgos, CT

I have worked at Dunkin Donuts in Hartford, CT for the past 10 years. It’s a good job and I work hard, but when you only earn $11.50 an hour, no amount of hard work is going to cover all your costs.

I’m also a father of four kids between the ages of 7 and 3. Making sure they have what they need is my top priority…

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Peter MacKinnon (002)

Peter MacKinnon, MA

I am a child protective supervisor with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and I see the work my colleagues and I do as the frontline for children’s safety in our state. I chose to pursue a career in social work because I care deeply about helping families provide safe homes for children. That work routinely puts me in difficult situations, situations that call upon the training and tools I’ve been provided through my union. Being a union member allows me to make the most of my job, which benefits both myself and those who I help.

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Ryan Eckes, PA

I’ve been an adjunct professor of English at Temple University, the Community College of Philadelphia, Rowan University and Philadelphia University over the last decade. I’m proud to have been a member of those academic communities. I’m just as proud to be a member of United Academics of Philadelphia, a union of adjunct professors.

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Pankaj Sharma, IL

I view my job as an educator as a privilege. I teach a range of social science classes including United States History, Government and Politics, and African and Latin American Studies at Niles North High School in Niles, Illinois. But I truly view my profession as the work of shaping young minds and making sure they are ready to go out into the world as good citizens.

Their success is in our nation’s best interest. That means giving them the best education, using the best tools, tactics and technology available is in our nation’s best interest, too.

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Lacy Barnes_AWT

Lacy Barnes, CA

I’ve dedicated my life to education, and I’ve seen first-hand how important it is for teachers – and other public service workers – to be able to come together to negotiate at work.

I’ve been a college instructor since 1992, but my involvement in education doesn’t end at the classroom doors: I am also very involved in my union. As president of the State Center Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1533, I am responsible for representing my fellow faculty members at Reedley College and Fresno City Colleges in the Central Valley. I am also serving as Senior Vice President of CFT.

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Dovard Howard, CA

When you think about your tap water, the word union probably doesn’t come to mind. But in many municipalities across the country, the people making sure we have safe and clean drinking water are public service employees.

I have worked as a Certified Control Systems Technician for a decade, following service with the Army in the Persian Gulf. Many of my coworkers have been here just as long or longer; we take pride in our work and take our responsibility to the community very seriously.

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Ralph Carmona

Ralph Carmona, ME

As an adjunct professor at Southern Maine Community College and VP of SEIU-MSEA’s Adjunct Faculty chapter, I see, firsthand, the positive difference we make as union members.

Just three years ago, adjunct professors at Maine’s community colleges had no viable benefits, job security or sick leave; really, no hope for a stable career path…

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Renee Aguilar

Renee Aguilar, AK

As an Emergency Preparedness Planning Coordinator at the Anchorage Department of Health and Human Services, my job is to make sure Alaskans are prepared to respond to and prevent large-scale disasters.

Working with government agencies, first responders like EMS and Fire Fighters, and community partners, my colleagues and I form a Crisis Health Action Team…

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David Orr, CT

To me, being in law enforcement is about more than doing a job, it’s about being a part of the backbone of your community. I have been in law enforcement for 15 years, working as a patrolman at the New York City Police Department, as a narcotics officer, a detective, and also on SWAT.

I am currently a patrol supervisor with the Norwalk, Connecticut Police Department, where I supervise the squad of patrolmen on the midnight shift. These are the women and men who do whatever it takes to keep our community safe, who we rely on in our darkest moments.

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Bobby Jones

Bobby Jones, NH

I have been in law enforcement for 27 years because I believe in serving my community and making New Hampshire a better place to live for everyone.

As a Police Dispatch Supervisor, I am responsible for making sure that law enforcement officials who respond to the scene of a crime understand the nature of the incident. I am also responsible for coordinating with courts and officers to effect warrant arrests.

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SEIU childcare provider Tonia McMillian, photo © 2010 Slobodan Dimitrov

Tonia McMillian, CA

For the last 11 years, I have been working to organize our union of family child care providers in California. We started—and continue—with the goal of raising up our profession as we raise up the next generation of smart kids in our family child care homes. Through those years, we’ve had the companionship and encouragement of each other as we’ve reach out to other providers, and worked with parents and child care advocates. We’ve built relationships with legislators and discovered and developed our own leadership skills.

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Karen Williams_For AWT website

Karen Williams, OR

After seven years working as an environmental geologist in the private sector, I went to work at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) because I wanted to have a broader effect on environmental restoration and benefit my community.

Now, as a Water Quality Analyst, I work with local governments and other stakeholders to identify, monitor, and reduce pollution to bodies of water in order to increase their quality for swimming and fishing. I am in charge of assessing and quantifying the amount of pollution that has entered a lake or river, and I measure it over time to track the progress we make in reducing pollution and restoring water quality.

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Betsy Shank

Betsy Shank, OH

I saw a lot of things change over my 30 year teaching career. You could see the world evolving through the microcosm of my classroom – from fashion to technology to music and more. But one thing that remained constant throughout my tenure was the support I received from my union. My decades in the classroom were more successful because my union had my back.

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Kelly Paluso, OR

I work with children in foster care and their families to see help them safely reunite.  In the almost nine years I’ve been working with families, we’ve had staffing cuts and hiring freezes. That meant that social workers like me had more children on our caseloads, more families we are responsible for, and less time to work with them to make sure they were safe.

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Rob Bullock SEIU

Robert Bullock, MA

For 13 years I’ve woken up every single day focused on keeping children safe. Through our union, we’ve raised standards and won major investments in child protection. We dramatically increased the number of social workers and investigators on the front lines. We secured new technology to assist in the field.

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The Right to Unite  2015    Alliance for Justice

VIDEO: The Right to Unite (2015)

Actor, activist, and union member Bradley Whitford narrates this powerful documentary about Supreme Court cases that threaten to undermine the rights of working Americans – and how we can fight back.

There was a time when our federal courts defended the rights of all Americans. But powerful corporate interests have changed that. They’ve spent decades working to reshape our judiciary (especially the Supreme Court) into one that would reinforce and deepen inequality rather than remedy it.

Read more at the Alliance for Justice.

Stephanie Wiley 1

Stephanie Wiley, OH

Every day I wake up before the sun rises to prepare for three daily shifts aiding students with special needs on their way to and from school. For 25 years, I have devoted my life to making sure children with physical and mental disabilities get to school safely and have a consistent, reliable adult presence when they leave home.

As a childcare attendant at the Transportation Department of Columbus City Schools, I assist students who take the bus to school, helping them with their wheelchairs, walkers and books.

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Photo by David Sachs / SEIU

Dawn O’Neal

I work in the three-year-old classroom at a child care center in Atlanta. I teach 19 children their letters and numbers. I read to them, and make sure they are safe and happy.

I love working with children, but at $8.50 an hour, I struggle. We can’t live on what we’re making. At the end of the month, I have to lay my bills out and choose what I can pay for with what I have left.

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CREDIT: ©2009 Tim Revell/OEA. Courtesy of the Ohio Education Association. All Rights Reserved.

Tina Adams, OH

I know if my kids are hungry, they aren’t learning. I also know who is eating his vegetables, and which kids needs to watch their sugar because of diabetes or other dietary restrictions. From the time the bell rings in the morning to when school lets out in the afternoon, I’m the mom. I care for these kids like my own—and all I want is for them to be happy, healthy and ready to learn. My name is Tina Adams, and I am a school lunch lady in Mansfield, Ohio.

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