Terri Friend has played a number of different roles in the International Association of Machinists (IAM) including serving as a local union editor, an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) coordinator and now as an organizer on the IAM staff.
We talked with her about the various ways she has utilized Union Plus benefit programs.
Q. How did you first find out about Union Plus benefits?
A. It was when I became a local EAP coordinator in the late 1980s. Other IAM members doing this work told me about them.
Q. What got you interested in doing EAP work in the first place?
A. Earlier in my life I lost several family members in a very short period of time and had something of a personal crisis as a result. Thus I know from first-hand experience about the tendency to be overwhelmed and not know what direction to go in. I got help on my own, but I came to appreciate how valuable it is to have someone to point you in the right direction.
Q. So how did you utilize Union Plus in EAP work?
A. I kept Union Plus brochures on display in my office and found a variety of the programs to be very helpful. I must have helped well over 100 people with the legal benefit. Lots of people who are having drug and alcohol or marital problems really need a lawyer to consult with. I also found that other programs like credit counseling and health savings discounts came in quite handy in various situations.
Q. You later also became editor of your local union publication. How did Union Plus fit in there?
A. I signed up for monthly Leader Update emails and was always running ads and information on the latest programs. I found that members really appreciated this. By the way, we won an award for our promotion of Union Plus benefits on our local Web site too. You can get Union Plus Web link information here.
Q. Did you heed your own advice and utilize Union Plus benefit programs?
A. I used the Union Plus Mortgage program to finance the purchase of my house and it was just as advertised. It was easy and fast and saved me money. I’ve also sent flowers using that benefit program.
Q. We understand that you do not get to spend much time in your house these days?
A. That’s right. Now that I’m an International Organizer, I feel like I live and work out of my car more than anywhere else, but I still always have Union Plus brochures with me. The members-only benefits are an excellent organizing tool. They can make a difference in successful organizing drives. For some people they can be the biggest selling point. Just recently someone signed a card after being impressed by the scholarship program.
Q. How would you sum up the role Union Plus has played for you?
A. Union Plus helped me personally with my mortgage, helped me help lots of individual members and now help me build the union. I’m grateful for the Union Plus benefits.