The barbers at JBLM had long enjoyed good contracts with strong union rights. That changed 2 1/2 years ago, when their contract was taken over by a new company. The new boss cut their pay, eliminated their credit card tips, and tried to pit them against each other—all to break their union.

“He came in here with an iron fist,” said Batista. “He had the military police called on us twice in one week, accused us of stealing. It was so stressful. I had a panic attack and had to go to the hospital. My husband and my children are all military. They told me to quit my job. But I couldn’t let someone wreck our lives like that.”

“When he cut our pay, some barbers lost their homes. We fought as a union and won the money back. But in 6 months, he ruined some people’s lives,” said Mamerto.

But the barbers were relentless, tenacious—and united. Our union filed dozens of NLRB charges until the employer finally lost the contract, and a new employer took over. Now the barbers are negotiating a contract that will secure their fair pay and the respect they deserve.

“It’s like people say, United We Stand, Divided We Fall. Support your coworkers and know that your union is your backbone. Don’t ever think, ‘Oh I’m poor, my family is poor,’ or you will stay at the bottom for life. If you have the support of your family and friends, you can change the world,” said Batista.