Justice Castillo is a key leader at HMSHost. She started working as a Starbucks barista at O’Hare airport in 2015. After becoming a union escort, her involvement in union activities increased and she became the face of the campaign “Justice at the Airport.” Here, she shares her story.
Q: How did you first get involved with the union?
A: The Starbucks job was my first union job. At first, I knew I had a union job, but I didn’t know how to get involved. I was working at Starbucks and we were really short staffed, I was always tired and my managers weren’t listening to me. For summer break from school I wanted to switch to a day shift, and I found out I was going to be the union escort. My manager discouraged me from doing it but I got the job.
Q: How did being a union escort impact you?
A: At first I didn’t really know much about the union. I just did my job and escorted the organizers while they did their union surveys, until they encouraged me to be more present. When I started listening to the other workers’ stories about the healthcare, that’s when I joined the fight.
Q: What are you most proud of?
A: I’m proud of having been a part of the fight. During the strike, so many of my committee turned out. It really made me feel like a leader. I’m happy that we won health insurance for the workers at HMSHost.
Q: Now that you’re on LOA with the hotel team, what are you looking forward to?
A: I look forward to learning and growing with the union, and building my self-confidence and leadership skills. This is an exciting time to be on leave, because the hotel contracts are expiring this summer. I’m excited to join this fight.