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How to Ensure Pay Fairness Through Your Union

Public service workers can better advocate for their communities and for each other when they come together in unions, as a Florida case illustrates.
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By Mark McCullough ·

Public service workers can better advocate for their communities and for each other through their unions, and that fact was underscored in a recent case out of Florida.

It took three years, but Joyce Harris is finally getting paid what she’s worth – thanks to her efforts through her own persistence and the support of AFSCME Florida.

Harris loves working for Florida A&M University because she believes in the historically black university’s mission of providing a high-quality, affordable education to students of color.

“I am surrounded by co-workers and students who are constantly striving to improve not just themselves but their community as well, and that fits in perfectly with the mission of AFSCME,” she said.

Harris, who serves as a steward for AFSCME Local 3343 and worked as a book keeper, always looks for ways to help her co-workers grow and to continue advancing her own career. That’s why, when an office manager job opened up, she jumped at the opportunity. Unfortunately, her paycheck did not change.

“I know my contract and I took steps to make sure it was enforced,” said Harris. “And thanks to the support of my union, I was able to keep up the effort as time went on and there kept being new reasons for delay.”

The university and Harris recently reached an agreement that provides thousands of dollars in back pay and ensures that her job reclassification takes effect. This case underscores how public service employees are able to advocate for themselves and their communities when they join together in unions like AFSCME.  

“The more I’ve worked with the council staff the more I get excited for the potential that we have here with AFSCME,” said Harris. “This settlement couldn’t have come at a better time because I can go out and talk to my co-workers about why I’m so thankful to have a union and how it is key to ensuring they too can be supported throughout their career no matter what it is they want to do.” 

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