Photo: Dave Sanders
Photo by Dave Sanders

Name: Walter McQueen
Job: Cleaner at an elementary school in Brooklyn, New York City
What I do every day: All the dirty work. I take care of the school and keep the school clean. We do the most work in the summer. When the kids come back, the school will be beautiful.
What I like most about my job: Being in contact with children. It’s not just the teachers—the community at large makes a difference in children’s lives. I like the environment, not just being a cleaner, but being part of the community.
My union: SEIU Local 32BJ, representing more than 110,000 building service workers
What my union does: It’s like a security blanket for me. It gives me a sense that unless I’ve done something terribly wrong, I’m going to have a job.

Photo by John Lawhead
Photo by John Lawhead

Name: Brian Jones
Job: Teacher in the Bronx, New York City
What I do every day: I start teaching at 8 a.m. and my school day ends at 3 p.m. A full load means teaching five lessons a day, plus a little tutoring. Last year, I taught sixth grade. This year I’m teaching drama – very exciting!
What I like most about my job: When I was in school, I used to get in trouble for asking too many questions. Now, my job is to encourage kids to ask questions and try to figure out the answers. Ha!
My union: The United Federation of Teachers, representing more than 228,000 people
What my union does: Without a union, teachers wouldn’t have any rights at school. We don’t have to be afraid of the boss. With our union, we not only have protection, we also have a voice. We can speak up about things that need to be changed in the school and in the community. If you ask me, I’d say it’s time for our union to fight this test-prep madness.