Member Spotlight: Janaya Martin

This digest features AFSCME member Janaya Martin, Clerical worker at the College of Design and Architecture. 

This past fall when I learned I was pregnant, joy almost immediately turned to panic. Instead of reveling in the excitement news of a new baby brings, I was looking at my leave balances and doing math. How on Earth I was going to make it work with only two weeks paid leave? Daycare providers don’t take babies under six weeks old. Not to mention, the thought of having to return to work so soon after giving birth actually made me cry. I, like many people, live paycheck to paycheck. I, like many people, already spend so much time away from my kids in an effort to simply provide. Once contract negotiations began, I felt like I had an army of folks in my corner, advocating for me and urging me to advocate for others. It was amazing. I felt empowered. I felt safe to say what I needed, confident to demand equal treatment knowing I wasn’t the only who thought it was what I deserved, what my new baby deserved. Now, as I count down the weeks to the arrival of my new little one, I feel a sense of calm I hadn’t before. This baby is likely my last and will also be the first (of three) that I will get to stay home and bond with for a full 12 weeks. I will still be able to maintain my health insurance, my mortgage and bills and comfortably introduce this new guy to our family and our family to life with a new baby. In a hierarchical system, a system that thrives on Us vs. Them, six weeks paid parental leave is a way to say, “You are valued. Your family has value.” I’m thankful for a union that helped the University see and do the right thing.

Janaya Martin has been at the University since June 2014 and is the mother of three.

Member Spotlight is a space to share your story with our union sisters and brothers. If you would like to share your story of how the union makes a difference, contact us at afscme3800@gmail.com.