Samantha Violante

Department: YMA

Position: Account Assistant

A union job saved my life. After a divorce, I was living with my grandmother and needed to support myself. Thankfully, I landed a job at the university. But as my probationary period ended, I was hit with a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis. Thanks to the benefits we had fought for, I was able to get the care I needed without going bankrupt.

But my struggles were far from over. Soon after I recovered, my department’s management threatened to layoff 30 people, including me. With the help of my organizer, I rallied my co-workers to ask management some tough questions. After much digging, we found there was really no reason for the layoffs – our department was busier than ever! So, I rallied my co-workers and we started signing petitions and participating in actions. It was a hell of a way to get involved in the union, but we had no choice.

Two months later, we won. There were no layoffs. Saving those jobs was hard work and uncomfortable, but the reward outweighed everything. Being part of the union makes me feel more productive and has helped me grow as a person. It showed me that I was capable of a lot more than I ever imagined.