What would you do for $12,800? How hard would you work for it? What would it mean if you had it taken away from you?
These are all questions that Deloris Wells had to answer during the last four years because her supervisor was not completing the annual evaluation form. And without a completed form she didn’t get a wage increase, year after year.
But, as this 12-year employee of Miami-Dade County said, “I knew this wasn’t right because my job involves dealing with payroll benefits so I knew there had to be something I could do.”
She just kept getting stalled, delayed and no closer to resolution. Meanwhile, life kept getting more expensive while her paycheck stayed the same. So she decided to rejoin her union, Local 199, which she had taken a break from in an attempt to make ends meet.
“As they say, penny wise and pound foolish because it was my union that could fix this with me so I said, let me make this small sacrifice so I get what I’ve worked so hard for.”
Using the strong language in her contract, which makes clear that if an employee didn’t receive an annual review within the specified time it was automatically entered as a satisfactory and they would get the step merit increase, her staff representative took her case directly to the labor-management committee and got it resolved.
“Once I brought in my union they knew I meant business and my supervisor couldn’t keep messing around with my paycheck.”
Now, Wells is taking the back pay she was awarded and using it to pay off the debt she had to take on over the previous four years.
And she has become a leader in her workplace and in her local. Her coworkers now come to her for advice, she is signing up as many new members as she can and she even attended a recent AFSCME Strong training.
“Nobody should have to go through what I did so I am working to make sure we can be stronger every day. Anybody thinking they can mess with our livelihoods quickly learns it is not going to go down like that.”