Member Spotlight: Will Schmager

Two years ago, Will Schmager accepted a job with the City of Salisbury as a Computer Technician. His day to day involves ensuring the various IT-related requests that come in each day go to the right person in his department to resolve. But in this past year, when he wasn't on the job, Will dedicated his time to talking to coworkers as they organized to form a union.

"It was so out of the ordinary how it started with management bringing up the idea to us. It felt like they were trying to push stuff over on us," says Will. He says because he felt the need to know what was happening for his department's sake and what was going to be happening going forward, he kept going to meetings to learn more.

When Will and his fellow city workers were made aware that city management wanted to adopt a labor code that would have prevented negotiations over working conditions, they organized together to ensure the labor code was modified and attended city council meetings to ensure their voices were heard.

"Each incremental step that we made was exciting. Maybe it was fear being spread around by management or maybe it was even the fear of the unknown, but you can just see the light bulb go off when people have the right information and realize that forming a union is not such a bad thing after all. At our first few meetings, we only had 10 people show up, but towards the end, we were getting support from entire departments," says Will.

That hard work paid off, and on Friday, October 20, Will and his fellow city workers received good news: their union had been certified with majority support from departments across the city!

Now, Will's looking forward to a first contract that includes additional holidays, particularly Christmas Eve, as well as consistent raises. For Will, his biggest takeaway has been, "Your employer never has your best interests at heart. If you have an opportunity to look out for yourself and fight for yourself, you should do it. Plus, it never hurts to have conversations with people. Some people had no idea what a union is, so it was helpful to have that conversation about how we can make our workplaces better."