Garment Worker, Organizer/UNITE HERE



Elsy Rivas

The economy’s really bad. I spent about eight months trying to find a job and here and there I was doing little jobs. (My) job provides you with forty hours and gives you benefits; It’s a great job. I like it. I like the people that I work with but, I just think that there’s something more for me out there that I’m just going to go and pick up and take on. If I would’ve known by now (what that is) I would’ve already gone for it.

College for me is not really an option. I’m technically an alien. I have a permit to live here due to the violence in my country but I’m not allowed to like, be part of anything that has to do with the government, like I can’t join the Army; that’s something that I would love to do. I can’t do any jobs that are in the government. I’m not an illegal per se. I have a permit to be here; I have a social, I have a license, I have a lot of things that people don’t have, but I don’t have citizenship. In order to go to college, if I don’t have citizenship, I would have to pay out of my pocket to go to classes. So, financial aid is not an option for me. From high school, my biggest dream was to do graphic design. That’s what I wanted to do. When I started thinking about going to college, I actually looked into this college, “Institute of Art” in Cambridge. The guy that I went and showed him my art to, he was in love with it. He thought I was going to be so good in there and you know, it was perfect for me because I could go to that school and this and that but as soon as he started talking to me about money, it was just a downfall…

Well, you know what, if it didn’t happen, it didn’t happen for a reason because if I worked my way around to go to college I would have never been part of this and I would have never got that job in Southwick and finally get someone to get me to be part of the union. The opportunities it has given me is just huge.