Making a positive change in workplace conditions
Steward organizes coworkers to institute telework option at Dept. of Insurance


When Annie Chao took a poll of her coworkers at the Department of Insurance (DOI) in Los Angeles, she found that many had a desire to telework.

A new steward out of the Leadership Apprentice Program for Stewards (LAPS), Chao immediately put her training to work researching options that would help meet that need. LAPS had provided her with a steward toolkit of organizing actions to win important workplace rights for her coworkers.

“I started with the contract,” Chao said. “I found there’s a provision in there for teleworking.”

So she put together a plan and pitched it to her director and another manager who passed it up to a manager’s meeting, where the proposal was met with some skepticism. But after addressing concerns about work habits and technology, Chao’s plan was ready to move forward.

“People are excited about this,” Chao said of the plan, which was adjusted to start at one day every two weeks instead of every week and to use department laptops instead of home computers.

Chao, who came to DOI from the private sector where she had no contact with unions, credits winning telework for her coworkers to her training.

“LAPS gave me a way to have workplace conversations,” she said. “Just knowing the right people to contact was so important.”

“The LAPS program gives stewards the tools to be effective leaders and represent their coworkers,” said Tamekia N. Robinson, Local 1000 vice president for organizing/representation. “Our stewards learn how to connect with others and share union values.”

Chao created real workplace change when she formed deep relationships with her coworkers and then organized them to improve their work lives.

“Once you know your rights, there is a lot you can do,” Chao said.