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Meet Janitor Troy Bowman, a member of Local 26 in Minneapolis

December 14, 2021

“Like many people, for much of my life I didn’t think elections were for me..."

“Like many people, for much of my life I didn’t think elections were for me. Over my 57 years, I would vote occasionally, but the reality was that I didn’t feel like anything I did would matter.

COVID-19 and my union changed that for me, and now I want to share my story in hopes of getting more “regular” people involved in fixing our government.

I was a janitor at a big box store during the pandemic, and I started getting involved with my union during the fight to get employers to pay people for time they missed because of COVID-19. I thought it was crazy that people like me — already underpaid and overworked — were having to use our vacation time or just go unpaid when we were exposed to COVID-19.

I missed more than a month of work in 2020, once because I was exposed to a co-worker and had to quarantine, and once when I actually had COVID-19. I’m still digging my way out from the financial hole of missing a month of paychecks.

I started speaking out about how I thought bosses and politicians were treating us as expendable, not essential (like they kept calling us), and at one event I talked with a fellow Service Employees International Union member who started telling me about a chance to get more involved in the 2021 Minneapolis and St. Paul elections.

This interested me because I wanted to figure out how to actually make the changes we need.”

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