Persistence can be a virtue. Just ask Betha Perez. A senior custodian for the University of California-Merced, and AFSCME Local 3299 member, Perez is a shining example of our union’s Never Quit attitude.
Imagine volunteering on an out-of-town organizing campaign for two weeks but meeting with little success initially. Many people would’ve given up, but not Perez. This volunteer member organizer (VMO) wasn’t about to quit trying to get more members involved with Public Employees Union, Local 1.
In February, Perez was among three AFSCME Local 3299 members who traveled to Richmond, California, to demonstrate their unwavering commitment to strengthening AFSCME.
“I remember thinking how proud I was to have the opportunity to share my experience with other workers as I drove to Richmond,” Perez said.
She found herself listening more than sharing before she could ask Local 1 members to sign support cards.
“I really started to connect with these workers when I realized we shared some of the same issues,” said Perez. “As I listened to their stories, I began to genuinely share my similar experience. That made it easier to gain respect for one another and build a relationship.”
Last October, more than 6,000 public service workers represented by Local 1 voted to unite with AFSCME. Local 1 was a big contributor to AFSCME’s success in adding 12,000 new members last year though most other unions saw membership declines.
“We knew joining the AFSCME family would bring many resources to our union,” said Mike West, Local 1’s president. “Having the unwavering commitment of volunteer workers from Local 3299 was a huge boost to our recent organizing efforts.”
Perez became active with Local 3299 after growing tired of the mistreatment of her coworkers. When she discovered that management was violating the contract, she realized that change would have to start with her and every individual union member. That realization became the catalyst for her passion for strengthening our union and led her to serve as a VMO to help Local 1 add new members.
“This is an exciting new chapter for Local 1 AFSCME and I'm happy to be a small part of making their union stronger,” Perez said.
As working Americans face unprecedented attacks, AFSCME needs more VMOs like Perez to help extend worker protections to even more public service workers from California to Maine, from Washington to Florida. We need more volunteers who will do the work and be persistent in our quest to expand our union one new member at a time.
To learn how you can become a VMO and help your fellow public service workers protect their rights and build a real future for their families, click here.