Meet Valerie Cole, our Union Services Representative
Union Services Representatives at Union Plus address the challenges of the 11 million workers represented by the AFL-CIO by adding value to union membership. After more than 25 years working with union members, nobody knows more about the benefit of union membership than Valerie Cole.
Valerie Cole, Union Plus’ most senior Union Services Representative has lived in Riverdale, Maryland her entire life. She’s married to Joe Cole, an assistant branch manager at a bank, and raises two boys, Bob (age 14) and Tyler (age 18). Val also has 3 dogs and a cat. The dogs’ names are Jax (by far her favorite and most spoiled), Sampson, and Roxy, and the cat’s name is Cleo.
Why has Valerie, better known as “Val,” stayed with Union Plus for more than 20 years?
“I like how Union Plus adds value to union membership by everyday things. Adding to everyday life for everyday people,” says Val.
Work with International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT)
Val’s father was a long time member of the International Typographical Union, and worked in the mailrooms of the Washington Post and the Washington Star. Growing up, she listened to discussions of the union, union contracts and benefits around the dinner table.
After graduating high school, Val began her career working for a local bank in Maryland, and bounced around jobs until she was hired by local 2 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT). Val’s time at IUPAT local 2 was her first experience working with union members, and her specific work dealt with Painters member pensions plans.
“While working with the Painters, it was really nice to see how long people stayed at their job because of their pension benefit,” says Val.
Remembering Union Privilege through the years
After seeing pensions add quality of life for real people, she knew union work was where she belonged, and was referred to Union Plus by the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) local 2. She started work at Union Plus at the age of 21, and looking back, she remembers most about Union Plus’ earlier days was working with members before the convenience of the internet.
“When I started working for Union Plus, the internet was just coming out. We used type writers, and a lot of mail. Nobody used emails; we actually had to go into other people’s offices to ask a question,” says Val.
In her career at Union Plus, Val has also walked on many picket lines and lead organizing drives with union members.
What’s Val’s favorite discount?
Val enjoys saving money the most on having fun and on gifts for friend.
“The flower discount is the biggest discount I use for friends and family,” says Val. “But I definitely like saving on hotels, vacations, entertainment, and amusement parks like on Busch Gardens tickets.”
Looking ahead to the summer, Val is ready for the warm weather, vacation on the beach, watching her son Tyler on the swim team.
“I love my job, and I love my union members. Use the benefits, they help you save money!” says Val.
What Union Plus thinks about Valerie Cole
What words can you use to describe a woman who has dedicated more than 20 years to adding value to union membership? Let’s see what her friends around the Union Plus office (check out our office here) have to say about Val.