I’ve been working at the same company since 2006 as a customer service representative (CSR) and I’ve seen a lot of change. It’s gone from kind of decent in the beginning, to horrible. I understand that change is natural, but it seems like things are always getting worse for the employees.
There are things I really like about my job - knowing I’m wanted somewhere every day, and of course, knowing I have a way to make some money. I like that, as a CSR, I have the opportunity to help all kinds of people, especially with understanding their healthcare benefits. But I feel like I’m being used and abused. During open enrollment periods and a little bit after, the calls are back-to-back. The company hires a lot of new people. When I first started this job, training was six weeks and I felt confident when I hit the floor. But now, training for new hires is three weeks. They’re rushed through and I end up helping them with their calls and basically training them, but I’m not recognized for it.
But I’m a fighter, if you will. I’ve been organizing for the union for almost a year now. I go to all the union meetings I can. I participate in door knocking - that’s pretty exciting, to see my coworkers and hear directly from them what they think needs to be changed. Whenever the opportunity is there - when I hear my coworkers complaining - I tell them about the petition we have going and that we can change things. But it’s not going as well, or as quickly, as I’d like it to. Not a lot of people are coming aboard where I work. They say they’re scared and don’t want to jeopardize their jobs.
The company had an anti-union consultant come in to try to persuade all the CSRs not to join the union. It was a captive audience speech – we had to be there. Upper management and HR were there. The consultant said negative things about unions throughout the entire meeting and when someone asked about the positives of joining a union, the consultant tripped over his words and didn’t really answer the question. He said that unions were declining over the years, that if we went on strike there was a way they could replace us with other people, that we could be waiting for a whole year, and that we wouldn’t get paid as much. I wish he had tried to shed light on both sides so people could make an informed decision.
What I get paid -- it’s not enough. I have a family of four - a husband and two children and I’m expecting a third now - and I’ve been trying to save for a house and to pay off my student loans and credit, but it’s taking a long time. I don’t know how much longer I can last here. This is what it comes down to - I don’t like feeling disenfranchised. I’m here, giving this company my time, and I want them to treat and pay me fairly.
Shaena Goodman-Robinson works as a customer service representative at a call center servicing government health and human services agencies. She identifies as mixed - with Black, Native, and White heritage - and lives in Richmond, VA with her husband who is a social worker, and two - soon to be three - children.
When my McDonald’s coworkers and I join together to fight for better pay and working conditions, McDonald’s hides behind its franchisees and says it can’t do anything to change things. This framework to build worker power would give workers like me a fighting chance.
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