I'll Never Forget the Stability of That Union Job

04/27/2022

I should be considering retirement, but instead, no break in sight.


Hi everybody. My name is Jacinth Finch. Finch like the bird, haha. We have many finches in St. Kitts in the Caribbean, which is where I was born and raised as the oldest of seven children. I have three grown daughters and three young granddaughters.

I met my husband in 2011, just one year after moving to the United States in search of (what I hoped would be) better work. We live in Florida where I care for people as a Certified Nursing Assistant, but things aren’t easy. Even at the age of 63, I work three jobs:

- in an assisted living facility from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. (for $13/hour);
- in a client's home for four hours in the mornings (for $12/hour); and
- in clients' homes, as hired by an agency, to give bed-baths (for $20/bath).

It’s a lot of physically exhausting work, and it's also emotionally draining because the people I care for are physically and emotionally weary.

I've held a lot of jobs in my life. It wasn't until age 52 that I earned my high school diploma and CNA license. But I've been on my feet for all of them, starting with my first job at the age of 9 watering my teacher's large garden.

My one and only union job was back in the early 90s when I worked as a hotel waitress. The pay was good—better than I’ve ever had before or since—and I had paid time off, for holidays and for when I or one of my kids was sick. I also had severance pay, which was unfortunately necessary when a hurricane destroyed the hotel restaurant, and we all got laid off.

Right now, what makes me fight most is the idea that paid sick leave must be a right, not a privilege. I have bad knees from years of standing on the job, but I can’t afford to take unpaid time off for the months it would take to recover from knee surgery.

So here I am, the oldest in my neighborhood, with no choice but to literally work through the pain. How else will I pay my bills? Rent on my 2 bedroom/1 bath apartment (no laundry facilities on site, mind you) just went up from $1,150 to $1,290.

My only hope is to join together in a union with my co-workers. Because when workers unite, we have a voice, and when we have a voice, we are a force to be reckoned with, and we win change.

Please join me in lifting the #UnionsForAll movement so workers in every industry and every state have the opportunity to join together in unions for a voice at work!


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