By Kelly Hartog
Treasurer Rickk Montoya is coming up on 20 years with 3090 — the same time he’s spent working for the City of Los Angeles as police service representative (also known as a 911 dispatcher).
Being a member of a union, you could say, is in Montoya’s blood. Aside from being raised in a family of union members — “I kind of was born into it with the [union] mentality —”, Montoya has worked in law enforcement, as a municipal worker and a service worker. “I was raised with the idea that we are stronger as a union as opposed to as individuals,” he said.
His union commitment certainly has never wavered. “I really believe we need to organize and work together to build a stronger voice and have the issues we’re dealing with solved,” he said, adding that even though the union comprises a diverse group of people, they all share basic needs as both individuals and families. “There are basic rights that we try to fight for together,” he said, “and we need a strong voice to do that.”
The most basic of these rights, he said, is “a working wage. A fair wage, which is being paid for the services that we actually provide. We also need a strong management that has a good plan for the future.”
For Montoya, these needs are most pressing today. “Especially when we work for a city,” he said. “Right now, there’s so many shortages. It’s not just the [COVID-19] pandemic that has hurt us, it also just seems like there’s a lack of foresight, a lack of action on the city’s part that we are now trying to push for.”
Included in those pushes are getting empty positions filled and “trying to get the city to remedy some of these issues with people leaving, that are not just through normal attrition.” Montoya is concerned that there are many people between the young people starting out and those retiring that are being overlooked. “We’re losing people in the middle,” he said, “and we need to make sure the management is aware of the issues that we have.”
It’s one reason Montoya ran for office. “I want to offer solutions to the city and get some of these problems solved so we can be on a better path for tomorrow,” he said. “I have this mentality that I don’t want to just stand by and watch and hope that the problems will be addressed. I want to be part of the solution and part of the process of getting things solved and dealt with.”
Montoya says he believes things understandably “went quiet” during the pandemic and it became “unclear whether we [the union] were there. So now, we’re trying to be as loud as we can and make sure we’re visiting job sites, visiting workplaces, trying to get in the faces of our members as well as our non-members and showing them the benefits of being part of the union. I want our members to get more involved and active again.”
Montoya also knows first-hand how much the union can help its workers. “I have a disabled son. He has an incurable disease,” he said. “For the most part, he has a decent prognosis, and he’s doing good, but without the medical benefits we got from the union, I wouldn’t even want to think about how we would be able to deal with this. Thanks to the union benefits, we can actually afford to not only work but also take care of our son. So, on a personal level, that’s always been one of the biggest things I’ve been blessed and thankful for.”
As a self-confessed “numbers person” running for treasurer made sense to Montoya. And from the financial side of the job, Montoya wants members to know that their dues are in excellent hands and they’re definitely being put out there to strengthen both the Local and benefit the members themselves.
“We’re doing everything we can as a board to not only handle things at the negotiating table but also to get back to our members, period,” he said. “Because we know none of this exists without them and their efforts. We’re open-minded. We are very transparent and we’re definitely looking out for them.”