Communications Information Representative, Department of Sanitation
Debra Durham still recalls one of the first cases she worked on as a union steward.
A city employee who was converting from contractor to full-time status was given permission to book a cruise with her family, Durham said. But after the employee became full time, management reversed itself and told her that the trip interfered with training. Despite her entreaties, they told her to cancel it.
The woman reached out to the union instead. Durham set up a meeting with management. The result?
“They were happy to oblige her, and said it was a misunderstanding,” she said. “I was so glad that I was able to help her.”
“That’s just the power of the union,” she added.
Durham has been a communications information representative at the Department of Sanitation since 2011. She helps residents and city departments with their requests, including booking trash and item pickups, billing inquiries, container services, and more. She says helping people is the best part of the job.
Durham has been a Local 3090 member since 2003, but only completed her steward training earlier this year. She wanted to be a lawyer growing up, but since that didn’t happen, she feels her work as a steward still gives her the chance to advocate for people.
“I just find it very rewarding to be able to help a lot of city employees … to empower them as to what their rights are,” she said.
To Durham, Local 3090 is crucial for protecting employees.
“You have rights and if you’re not aware of your rights, it’s important to have a union to help fight with you, to stand by you,” she said.
In her free time, Durham like to read, go dancing, and spend time with her grandchildren.