CapTel Workers Union’s own Jill explains why they are fighting for a union and a democratic workplace at CapTel.
CWU: If you could change one thing at CapTel with a magic wand, what would it be? Why?
There are a lot of things that I would change about CapTel, but if I had to pick just one, it would have to be the wages. Eleven dollars an hour isn’t a living wage, and it’s really cruel and demeaning to expect your workers to care about their jobs and to be exemplary employees when they’re not even making enough money to survive.
CWU: Do you have a CapTel horror story?
The most horrible thing I’ve seen at CapTel is people coming into work really ill, because CapTel basically encourages people to come in when they’re sick. What I mean by that is they offer us very few sick days, and if you take too many sick days in a row, you need a doctor’s note in order to not get fired. Lots of employees at CapTel can’t afford to go to the doctor, so this, along with the need to go to work and make money, results in lots of people coming to work sick.
One day I was just walking through the call center, and I saw someone get sick at their desk while captioning. They muted their microphone to get sick in their trash can, and then resumed captioning, because they couldn’t get a call takeover in time to run to the bathroom. And that really disturbed me. I still think about just how awful that must have been for that person, to be at this job where if they left their computer to run to the bathroom when they were ill, they would have gotten fired for abandoning the call. And if they’re not given a call takeover in time, then getting sick in their trash can at their desk is the only option for them. That just really stood out to me, and I think says a lot about the type of workplace that CapTel is, as this sort of thing happens pretty regularly.
CWU: Why do you believe CapTel needs a union?
I believe CapTel needs a union because the people [captioning assistants] who are on the front lines and actually doing all the work and bringing in all of the profits for the company need to be given representation. We need a union because we deserve living wages, better healthcare, more empathetic policies. [CapTel management] have made it clear that they’re not just going to give us $15 an hour out of the goodness of their hearts. It’s clear that the higher-ups at CapTel don’t want to treat us better without putting up a fight, and I believe we need a union because that’s the most effective way to positively change our workplace. A more democratic workplace would benefit every CA.