Until she was fired after 17 years: “I never thought I’d need the Union’s help"

“I was one of those members who never thought I’d need the Union’s help.”

These are the words of Taeko Sakumoto, an employee of Jewish Family Service. Then, after 17 years employment, she was terminated from her position as a Residential Counselor at a JFS Domestic Violence Shelter.

AFSCME Local 800 took her case to arbitration claiming that her termination was unjustified under the legal protections of our Collective Bargaining Agreement with JFS.  The neutral arbitrator agreed with the Union and ordered the Employer to return Taeko to work at her same position with full back pay for wages lost since her termination.

Taeko said: “I’m so thankful for what AFSCME Local 800 has done for me. It really showed the strength of the Union when we won my arbitration case. I feel empowered knowing that we have the legal right under our Union contract to be protected from unfair discipline or termination by management. Thanks so much to Local 800 President Charlie Orlowski, our Executive Board, and Local 800 membership for having my back through this whole experience. I want to encourage all union members to always support our Union. Now I’m back to work and able to continue with my passion for helping women who are victims of domestic violence."  (Note added later:  Taeko's new appreciation for the Union led her to become active, as a member of the Executive Board.)

You do not need to be terminated in order to call on your Union for help! Familiarize yourself with your union contract, and if management is violating any of its terms, let us know.