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A look at the men and women who make American happen

Dianne Morris.(Photo by Greg Dixon)

Diane Morris

Weatherization Technician, Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, Local 1 (Council 24)

What does a weatherization technician do?

Our job is to make sure that buildings are complying with state and federal energy efficiency laws.

How did you get into this line of work?

When Gov. Scott Walker was elected, many state workers left. They asked me to keep doing my current plan entry job, work the reception desk and lead the rental weatherization program.

That sounds like an awful lot of work for one person.

Yes, as you might guess, it’s impossible to do three jobs. But I really, really tried. It went on like this for two-and-a-half years.

How did it get better?

I was doing a job that was two pay grades higher. I went to Walker appointees and asked them about reclassification. I kept getting shut down, but I held my ground and continued to be polite.

My union representative told me about a workshop that our local union president put together on reclassification. Then someone in human resources wanted to do what was fair and what was right. She took up my cause and pleaded my case. One of the people who originally shut me down changed their mind. I think people want to be good. Sometimes they just don’t know how.

Saul Camacho

Saul Camacho
(Photo by Janae Nikole)

Bay Area Rapid Transit Train Controller, San Francisco, Local 3993 (Council 57)

Can you tell me about your job?

My job is to control a system with as many as 50 trains.  We control the dispatching of trains, the proper routings. The train operator oversees the safety elements as the “eyes and ears,” and the rest of it is turned over to the control center.

We’re one of the most on-time systems in the nation. We move roughly 425,000 passengers a day, and we’re about 95 percent on-time.

How did you come to work for BART?

I was a police officer in Illinois for several years, and I spent some time in the air traffic industry. Before that I worked as a 911 operator, so I have a varied background. I have the privilege of working with a number of people who came up through the ranks at BART, who started as station agents or train operators.

What role does AFSCME play in your work?

AFSCME is small here but we represent a pretty core part of what BART does. We have about 200 members. It’s a collective of people who work in professional operations. When you interact with people in so many disciplines in such a small union it’s hard to find common ground, but somehow we sit down at our meetings and we work it out.

Robert Cheeks

HIV Counselor Outreach Worker/Phlebotomist
Baltimore City Health Department, Local 44 (Council 67)

I work for the Baltimore City Health Department as an HIV counselor, outreach coordinator, and phlebotomist. I work at a free clinic where people come in for STD testing and treatment. We help a lot of people.

Robert Cheeks
(Photo by Irish Brown)

I’m proud to be part of AFSCME because it’s where we all come together to find strength in numbers.  We need a union because people are losing jobs left and right. People in different positions aren’t treated fairly, but AFSCME has always been there for all of us.

I donate to PEOPLE because the cost of living is going up, people are struggling. We can change that when our political voice is stronger.  If I can give money to support the community, I’m happy to do it.

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