September 21, 2021

“What AFSCME has meant to our family”

One of the 12 winners of the national 2021 AFSCME Family Scholarship is Miley Worker, a student from Vandalia Community High School and the daughter of AFSCME Council 31 Executive Board member and Local 993 President Tim Worker. The following is an excerpt from her application essay.

Growing up in the small rural town of Vandalia, Illinois, my siblings and I have always been blessed and happy. Vandalia is a low-income community, with not many career opportunities. However, our mom and dad both work full-time jobs. Our mom works out of town in a private school and our dad works at the Illinois Department of Corrections in Vandalia.

My dad’s long and prosperous career as a correctional officer and correctional lieutenant is how our family has managed financial stability in our small town of great people with limited career opportunities. My dad’s career is how my family became affiliated with AFSCME, and AFSCME has been a strong contributing factor to our happiness and success.

My dad’s job at the Vandalia IDOC is not an easy one. It requires him to work weekends and holidays, second and third shifts, and many overtime shifts. In addition, his working environment comes with risks of injury and lots of stress. These challenges have affected our family in many ways, such as: dad missing Thanksgiving and Christmas, dad missing volleyball and football games, dad having to miss a family cookout because he’s working a double, the stress of dad getting involved in an altercation with an inmate, dad being tired, dad being stressed about a scary incident at work, dad being exposed to viruses, such as the flu and COVID-19.

There have been many challenges we have had to accept as a family, due to my dad’s career. That’s where AFSCME has played a big role for our family. Although my dad’s career is high risk and demands 24/7 shiftwork, our family has the comfort of knowing that AFSCME protects him. They protect his rights as an essential worker. They protect his rights to fair wages. They protect his rights to affordable medical care. They protect his contractual rights. They protect his accessibility to training. They protect his future. In turn, they protect our family.

The protection and stability AFSCME has provided to my dad’s career are priceless. Small, rural communities in Illinois are at a disadvantage to bigger cities when it comes to career opportunities that allow working class people a chance to provide for their families. Through fair wages, medical care, and job security, AFSCME [creates] these types of careers in rural communities.

AFSCME’s principles of giving back to communities and social and economic equality have extended into our family’s principles. My parents have influenced me and my siblings to be aware of those in need and to use our voices to help others. That’s why I hope to pursue my career in the medical field.

I plan to continue volunteering in my community and hope to pass that torch to my future children. I, like my dad, am AFSCME strong. I’m very proud.

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