Police Dispatcher, LAPD
If you're in an emergency, it's people like Local 3090 member Robin Van Ness, 54, who are there to help.
For the last 30 years, she has been a police dispatcher for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), handling police calls and alarm notifications.
"They say officers are the first responders, but I believe we're truly the first responders," Van Ness said. "To get those people dealing with emergencies help right away when they need it, it's a really good feeling."
A veteran in her department working out of the LAPD's Metro Communications Dispatch Center in downtown, Van Ness also instructs newly minted dispatchers fresh out of training on how to oversee radio frequencies, and field and assign calls.
Van Ness' enthusiasm hasn't waned after more than three decades on the job.
"Every day can be totally different," she said. "I've always loved my job ever since I started. You hear some people complain about their jobs. Me? Never."
Van Ness' interest in her union was minimal until recently. She and department mainstays have been lobbying for changes to their weekly "5/8/40"—five days, eight hours per day, totaling a 40-hour schedule. Nine months ago, her union reps came through and negotiated a pilot program instituting a preferred "4/10/40" schedule. Van Ness, who explained that a lottery has been put in place to gradually weave employees into the program, expects to be in this schedule by December.
"From what I hear, people love it. People love having that day off. So I'm very thankful to the union for helping with that," she said.
When she's not in the office, Van Ness- who has some Scottish blood- plays the bagpipes with the Los Angeles Police Emerald Society. She is the group's first civilian employee member.
"They're a great group of people and it's so fun," she said. "I still have a ways to go to learn all the songs but they're very encouraging."