PROFILE - New Local 1014 Vice President Amber Pallante

As of January 1, 2019, all of the roughly one hundred CWA Local 1014 workers at the Camden County Library System will be making at least $15 per hour. As recently as last November, some workers were making as little as $8.92. Over half of them were making $12.20 or less. Almost all were over 21 and most were either self-supporting or had families. With wages so low, they struggled to make ends meet. Many worked more than one job. Some even worked more than two jobs. The pay increase of up to 68% will make a big change in their life.

As every true union member knows, nothing good is simply handed to workers. They must fight for it. The $15/hour minimum wage was the result of an almost two-year campaign by Local 1014. Our campaign was fashioned on the #FIGHT4$15 movement by workers across the nation. But it never could have succeeded without the work of Local 1014 members and the leadership of union representatives. Foremost among the leaders was Local 1014 Trustee Amber Pallante. Amber pushed and prodded members, coordinated activity with AFSCME (who represented a separate set of Library workers), challenged Library management and helped take the fight to the County Board of Freeholders. It wasn’t easy. It didn’t happen overnight. And it wasn’t always clear that we would get there. But Amber helped workers remain focused and fighting. Her outrage at the injustice and her intensity in fighting made her stand out.

When Local 1014 Vice President Leah Hicks completed her last term and retired last October, President Karl Walko asked Amber to run for Vice President on his slate. He knew, from the campaign at the Library, she had what it took to be a union leader. Amber and the entire slate were elected without opposition. 

Amber believes if you work hard you deserve a decent salary and decent benefits. She wants fairness in our economic system and doesn’t believe it is fair today. She acquired her union attitude from her family. She’s the product of a long line of union workers. Her father is a retired IBEW member. They understood that workers don’t stand a chance unless they come together and fight as one.

As a married mother of two, she worries for her children’s future. Her concern led her to leave the workforce while they were young. A part-time position at the Library allowed her to balance work and family as they grew. In time, she increased her hours and currently works full-time as a Principal Library Assistant. She enjoys serving the patrons of the Library and, after fifteen years of service, knows how to handle almost any Library issue. This desire to serve along with her intolerance of injustice has led her to regularly stand up for the underdog.

She says, “I don’t like the turn the world has taken.” So, she is committed to making it right and is not afraid to let people know what she thinks, saying, “If you don’t open your mouth, nothing will change.”

Local 1014 is lucky to have Amber Pallante on our side. We look forward to her continued help in the fight for workers, so that they get what deserve and their families can live a decent life.