“We have paid family leave and I’ve been given the gift of time with my newborn.” Interview with Tiffany Dong

Tiffany Dong (She/Her/Hers) is a Recreation Supervisor for the City of San Jose. She has been a proud member of IFPTE Local 21 for about six years and counting. Tiffany sat down with us to share about her work as a new mom, as a part of our Union Pride Campaign.
The Union Pride Campaign is an effort intended to share some of the amazing work that our Local 21 members do every day. We are highlighting members from several Local 21 jurisdictions, along with a variety of different classifications and many of our members who continued to work tirelessly serving the public during the global pandemic.

How does your work impact the public?

Tiffany Dong: My position — Rec Supervisor — works at a community center and we provide programs from the “cradle to the grave.” That means ages zero to 100, and beyond. Some of these programs are pre-school care, senior lunch programs, dance and music classes, language education programs, even after school student programs and summer camps.

How does your family/upbringing impact your values?

TD: I’m a first generation Vietnamese American. Growing up, I wasn’t really involved in recreation programs because my mom worked and I helped when I could. In the summers, though, my mom would sign me up for a free recreation program provided by the city. We were low income so this was my first taste of summer camp or anything like it and it definitely impacted my future.

Having the chance to go to summer camp to meet friends and have a safe space to play and learn meant the world to me. My mom instilled her work ethic in me and made sure I knew the value of giving back to the community that supported us in a time of need. We were on government programs. We grew out of that, and now it’s my time to give back to the community.

Do you volunteer with other organizations in addition to L21?

TD: I have volunteered at food banks and meal distribution sites. In 2017, when San Jose experienced some of the worst flooding since the 90s, I volunteered at the Seven Trees Community Center and helped support and run the Emergency Shelter for families who had lost everything. I continued to volunteer at the same community shelters when San Jose residents were fleeing from the devastating wildfires.

Is there anything that surprised you about being a part of a union?

TD: I was pleasantly surprised by the camaraderie and family-oriented aspect within our union. With our previous contract, we had no family leave. I’m a first-time mom and when I was looking at my hours while pregnant with my daughter, I realized that I did not have a lot of time to spend with my daughter when she arrived.

But now, with our new contract wins, we have paid family leave and I’ve been given the gift of time to bond with my newborn.

How can being in a union help workers during this unprecedented time?

TD: Working directly with the public, there is a lot of fear. As a union, we were able to provide a telecommute stipend for our members, along with putting safety procedures in place. Talking in our union about our concerns really helped push the city forward to enforce vaccination and health and safety checks, which help keep our public safe.

I feel empowered to be a part of a union because I know that I can always have it to fall back on to ensure that my family’s health and safety are prioritized. 

Why are you proud to be a member of IFPTE Local 21?

TD: I am so proud of this union because it has given me so many opportunities. I learned a lot about the work of my colleagues and I love hearing about the work that they do too. I have leaned on members who have become mentors to me and I am humbled to also mentor others.