Teamster Anthony Berkley does not speak kindly of groups trying to undermine organized labor. A registered nurse in the COVID unit at MCC, Berkley appreciates how the Union looks out for his safety and that of his co-workers. Berkley is one of dozens of DOC members who have been attending online rank-and-file leadership meetings over the last few weeks.
Why was it important for you to get involved with the Union?
BERKELY: The rights and benefits that I’m afforded through the Union are important to me and my family. I want to build on our success and not see unions go away.
How did you become such a keen student of labor history?
BERKELY: I grew up in the Midwest, where workers in the steel and auto industries relied on unions to survive. My family has strong ties to organized labor.
I know the benefits unions have brought workers in this country. Not long ago, you had to work 6 days a week without breaks. Workers who made the engine go were being shafted. We can’t go back to those times.
Why is it important to have a strong Union when dealing with DOC?
BERKELY: It’s important because of the mental stress of the job. For us, having the protections of our contract and a respite for family time is essential. The Union provides us with time off so we can come up for air.
What do you think about the temporary layoffs DOC has imposed on the membership?
BERKELY: I think it’s absolutely ludicrous. When they needed us, we stepped up in the midst of a global pandemic. We put ourselves and our families on the line. They deem us essential, then take back 80 hours and cut our pay. If we’re essential, treat us as such.
What are your thoughts about anti-union groups like the “Freedom” Foundation/Opt-Out Today that are trying to divide us?
BERKELY: They’re a disgrace. They’re hired hands who want to separate us from our union benefits. They want to confuse us so we act against our best interests. Don’t fall for it.