Among the 2017 winners of the AFSCME Family Scholarship, awarded annually to graduating high school seniors, is Silver Ballardo, a student from Cerritos High School.
Growing up, Silver Ballardo saw how the union supported her family and her father, AFSCME member and current Local 2229 President Anthony Ballardo.
In her essay, she tells the story of how AFSCME protected her father’s job following a serious injury at work. When administrators started discussing plans of a settlement and releasing him from the job, turning to AFSCME changed the course.
“My parents were terrified that they were going to be left with a small payout and so many health concerns that Dad would never be able to be hired again,” Silver writes. “Without the union’s intervention and support, my family would have been financially devastated and I would never have had even the possibility of going to college. For that I will be eternally grateful.”
AFSCME’s involvement didn’t stop in her father’s workplace. Her dad’s co-workers were Silver’s “extended AFSCME family,” who she recalled in fond childhood memories, from visiting her father at work on his lunch break to birthday celebrations and barbecues.
Recognizing her father’s dedication to the union, she writes, “he knows that the union is essential not just to protecting those injured on the jobs, but making certain that the other members can do their jobs for fair pay, in safe working environments where employees are treated with respect, provided with the right tools and given enough time to do their jobs.”
Going on to seek higher education, Silver reflects on the impact AFSCME has had on her life. “For me, as I have grown, AFSCME has been about friends and family and all of them standing up together because as my dad says, 'Together we are AFSCME strong!'"