Why I’m A Member
Vestal, New York
Judy Waples, Mary Ann Galati-Grate, Shirley Macchiano, and Mary Ann Bynes (not pictured)
Photo: Stephen Appel
“You think about the people who are single and making $7.55 an hour,” Macchiano says. “How do they even pay their bills?” The thought of those colleagues, working two or three jobs, kept the Vestal Association of School Paraprofessionals in the fight for a fair contract for three long years. “It never ever took so long before—but we never dug in our heels before and said, ‘We’re going to fight,’” says Bynes.
The other thing making this campaign different: “Communication... We did everything to keep everybody in the loop,” Macchiano says. In the end, their persistence paid off with 5 percent annual raises, retroactive to 2007. “We’re not people who make a lot. I’ve been there 25 years and I earn $15,400,” says Bynes, “but I love my job.”