Department: YSM Admissions
Position: Senior Administrative Assistant
Years at Yale: 5
When I first started working at the university managers in my department had developed a culture of distrust. It was understood that if they could, they would let us go. People were afraid of admitting mistakes. Members felt like they could only look out for themselves and it forced them to be guarded. It was unsettling, but having a union gave me security. Knowing the contract, I started to poke my head around and talk to other members. By being persistent and talking to people I built trust in a department that had little. But not everyone builds trust at the same speed. Having union support, I was able to take the lessons learned and transition to a new position at the university and become a leader within my area.
There was one member who had a very public issue that was health related. Management wanted to let him go but as his steward I defended him. Initially, he wouldn’t tell me anything. After several meetings and getting to know him, he admitted that he was dealing with a medical condition causing problems on the job. He hid it because he was afraid of retaliation. I was relieved for two reasons. First, we could go back to management and tell them that this firing would be discriminatory and there were solutions to help him. But I was also relieved because he trusted me enough to be vulnerable about his condition. We worked together and in conjunction with management made a plan for him to get help to keep his job. Since then, his attitude and the departments have changed completely. To this day I am still friendly with him and go out of my way to say hi and check in on him.