Tyler O’Neil, Sales Rep, AT&T Mobility, MELast year I was lucky enough to have a new member join my family, my son Benjamin. After he was born I was able to take 4 weeks of paid vacation time, including commission pay, to take care of my newborn son and help my wife recover. Without our union and contract I wouldn’t have been able to afford to take the time off to care for my family. Our contract grants me over 5 weeks of paid time off yearly (6 weeks if you count paid sick time) after only 1 year of employment. We also receive extra pay on holidays, two paid breaks a day, excused with pay time, floating holidays, and exchange time. Thanks to our contract we are able to pick our own schedules instead of having them assigned by management. The schedule needs to be posted far in advance and can’t be changed last minute, making it easy to plan your time. I can’t imagine how one would juggle work, family, and day to day life without our contractually provided paid time off and advanced scheduling of shifts. When my son had his three month checkup the doctor gave us news no parent wants to hear. Our son was exhibiting signs of potentially having a tumor or other growth in his brain. We were told to bring him into the hospital for a brain scan immediately. I contacted my union steward and was told this would be covered by FMLA. Thankfully, my son was fine but my troubles were not quite over. When I returned to work my manager pulled me into the office and told me he would be investigating my time off and it could lead to discipline, including termination. I immediately contacted the union and found that managements threats were not only against our contract, it was against the law. Within hours my boss received a call from the union and I haven’t had any trouble from him since. Every union representative I spoke with genuinely cared about helping me and followed up to make sure everything was ok at work and home. This experience taught me that the union isn’t structured like a business. It’s not controlled by individuals trying to appease shareholders, get rich, or looking for power. The union is more like a family. We look out for each other and stand together to fight for what’s right. As we’ve seen at AT&T the only way to make change is to band together and demand that the company puts people before profits. It gives me pride to be a member of the CWA and I’m excited to see fellow telecom workers at Verizon joining our family.