Unions Matter: Guest Blog by Bianca Hodge

I have always believed in unions. When I was presented with the opportunity to join AFSCME upon accepting a job with DCF, I did not hesitate. That would prove to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. After less than a year on the job, I was assigned to a new position without proper training. Rather than providing coaching, I was terminated abruptly. Losing my job was devastating for me because I was a new resident of Florida with no family and very few associates. The absence of a viable support system weighed heavily on me. However, through the grievance process with AFSCME, I found there were other state employees going through similar situations and being treated unfairly. AFSCME provided a support system and the tools to fight for fair and just treatment. There is nothing more comforting than speaking to someone that understands your situation and is willing to have your back.
Fighting for your rights is never an easy process. This is why so many just walk away. However, I knew from the beginning that was was happening to myself and others in the workplace was wrong and felt a responsibility to stand up. Eventually, I won and was reinstated with back pay, retirement benefits, and all raises I was entitled to. This small but significant victory means so very much to me and my family. Just when self-doubt started to creep in and I began to think about all of the things that could go wrong, truth prevailed. AFSCME stood with me and allowed my voice to be heard. I'm proud to belong to a union that provides an avenue for us to stand up against partiality, corruption and exploitation. I want to thank my co-workers, particularly my union sister Kibibi Akil and AFSCME Local 2673 President Della Denny-Abbott for guiding me and providing words of encouragement during this process. I'd also like to thank AFSCME Representative Torrence Johnson who has made it his purpose to stand up for us “little people." Mr. Johnson's dedication and commitment to the membership of this union is what makes it all worth it. I am immensely grateful, inspired and proud to be a member of AFSCME Florida. Always remember, when we unite, we have power. Solidarity.