Teamster Maniqua Sanchez works hard so her son, Phillip, has more opportunities than she did growing up.
Maniqua Sanchez is a powerhouse, a true workhorse Teamster. She racks up the overtime, filling multiple roles at Darigold’s milk processing plant in Seattle, often putting in 60 hours a week. Somehow, this single mom also carves out time to pursue a college degree all the while caring for her 9-year-old son, Phillip, with help from a tight-knit family.
With her Teamster job, Maniqua provides opportunities for Phillip she didn’t have when she was a kid. Vacations were rare for her, and finances were tight. With Phillip, she makes a point of taking at least three trips a year. It’s a busy life for this Teamster, but one with purpose in pursuit of dreams she has for herself and her son.
You come from a Teamster family. How aware were you of the Union growing up?
Growing up, we didn’t know much about the Union. We just knew Auntie Shar and Uncle Jay had lots of money. We always got the best presents from them. It wasn’t until I had been here a year when I started to understand the benefits of the Union. A lot of it was the healthcare. Before working here, I was paying so much more out of pocket.
What else do you like about being a Teamster?
As Teamsters, we all look out for each other. Some people might not get along, but at the end of the day we all stick together. If anybody is struggling, there are people here who are willing to help. A lot of these relationships I will have for the rest of my life.
Maniqua (r) walks the floor of Darigold's milk processing plant in Seattle with her Union Rep, Jacob Westerlund.
You often work 60 hours a week. Why so much overtime?
Some of it is mandatory, but at the same time we want to get the product out the door. On the other hand, it’s just me and my son. I do a lot of things for him. I try to take him on three vacation trips a year. As a kid, I never did that. We just didn’t have the money.
You’re also a full-time student. With all the overtime you work, how do you manage?
If it wasn’t for the support of my family, I wouldn’t be able to do it. My mom, my grandma, my sister – they all help me out. Almost everybody in my family has played a part. We’re pretty close-knit.
What vacations have you taken with Phillip recently?
Last year, we went to Chicago. We saw the natural history museum. We saw the Chicago bean, the zoo, the aquarium. He’s actually the one who told me about the bean. Apparently, it’s in a lot of movies. I think he saw it in one of the fight scenes in the Avengers. I had no idea what it was – I had to Google it.
What was Phillip’s reaction when he saw the bean?
He said, “Can I go up and flick it?” My family is from the area, and my grandma would go there as a kid. The running joke was, “We’re gonna flick the bean!” He said, “I’m gonna do what Nana did.” He thought that was cool.
Maniqua is all about her son, Phillip, as her tattoo so beautifully demonstrates.
Where else have you gone with Phillip recently?
We went down to Corpus Christi – I have a friend down there. That’s the first time I’ve ever felt warm ocean water. It was cool to bring him. Now he can say he went to a different ocean. He loves the beach. He’s like, “Mom, the water’s warm!” I wouldn’t be able to do things like that if I didn’t have this job.
What else is Phillip into?
He likes building things and puzzles. Like any kid these days, he likes YouTube and wants to be a YouTube creator. It changes every day. He’s really into wrestling, he’s into Monster Trucks. Since we got the hockey team here, he wants to do hockey. He’s been taking skating lessons for the last year. We go to Thunderbird games every so often.
You’re really involved in your Union. Why is that so important to you?
With the Union, you're the voice for everybody. You’ve got to keep people honest. I’m the kind of person that likes to question things. I’m willing to be there for my co-workers. Someone may have gotten in trouble, but I’m like, What did you do as an employer to prevent this? I’m always going to fight for my co-workers.
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