"Management said we'd lose this and we'd lose that and that a union would make things worse. But we knew that we needed to be treated with respect and dignity and we voted overwhelmingly for the union—90 percent—and today we have better wages because of it."
Horizon House, Peru, Ill.
"When you're part of a union you're not just a small group of people with a small voice. You have the solid backing of the union behind you—not just Council 31 but the entire international if necessary. Management has to listen to us when we challenge them now. They have to treat us like equals."
DuPage County Probation Officer
"Our administration said there wasn't any money. But over the course of our first three-year contract we locked in, on average, 20% pay increases. What happened? As individuals we were taken for granted. When we organized, we became a priority."
Illinois State University Secretary
"With our first contract we secured what we currently have and also will see 20% wage increases over the next three years. We negotiated for paid funeral leave and sick time, and for setting up a joint labor-management committee to make improvements in health insurance. These are just some of the examples of gains we saw through our contract-gains that were never offered to us by our employer."
First Student Bus Drivers and Aides, Waukegan, Ill .
"The first time we tried to organize we had new management and they urged us to give them a chance without a union. We did, and within a year they had taken away benefits we already had. We voted for AFSCME, and not only did we negotiate mandatory annual raises and some benefits for part-time workers, but we've also made it clear that they must respect us. They must sit down with us, discuss and compromise."
New Hope Center, Dolton, Ill.
"AFSCME-represented nurses have been able to win employer-paid in-service education, tuition reimbursement, paid educational leave, clinical promotional ladders and other career development benefits. AFSCME contracts for RN's have won alternative scheduling, higher staffing levels and health and safety protections."
RN AFSCME international vice president
"Before we had the union, there were problems with favoritism and low pay. The things we liked about our jobs were not secure, and as employees we had a very limited voice. As a union, we've gained a real voice. We speak for ourselves on how promotions, pay, benefits and other conditions of our jobs should work."
Court Clerk II, Cook County
"We are treated with a lot more respect now that we have a union. And we have the clout to solve problems, like overtime. It used to be only certain people got overtime and there was little warning for mandatory overtime. Now, available overtime shifts are posted a month ahead of time and people can sign up. If there are still shifts left over, they will assign workers, but you always know at least three weeks in advance."
New Hope Center, Dolton, Ill.