When we interviewed Troy last summer, he had been laid off from all three of his jobs, and COVID-19 was dramatically changing his kids’ lives. A lot has changed since then at home and at work for Troy. He credits his union for much of the good news.
Family responsibilities skyrocketed last year, when Troy’s children attended school virtually.
“You have to log them in, make sure they’re on breaks, in the right classroom, and keep them focused,”
Troy noted, acknowledging the stress of the year. Getting back to in-person school will make work/life balance much better.
Back to Work
Troy has also gotten called back to work since we last talked; he was one of the first 50 or so out of 700-800 culinary workers to return to work in his venue. Work procedures were changed to ensure maximum safety and protections: wearing masks; food handling and safety procedures; cashless payments; and limited items and locations.
“Because of COVID-19, we were understaffed and spread thin… it’s still not back to the way it was, but it’s a start.”
A Sense of Community
Troy gives a lot of credit to his union, the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Union (MASH), which provided both resources and a sense of community to its members. Throughout the past year, MASH has been working to help workers like Troy get unemployment, FoodShare, and other assistance to ensure their financial stability. Troy also points to the sense of community that MASH offers:
“we really care about the people, we’re like a family…the meetings offered that connection that we were missing.”
Additionally, MASH has fought to make it so that everyone in the Milwaukee area can be in a union.
“I think things are moving in the right direction, $15 and a minimum wage is something that we need, but it’s still on the low end. The relationship with the employer is better, but we are still working to work at different properties…and ensure that there is more year-round and consistent work.”