Q&A with NPEU Member Devontae Torriente

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An Interview with NPEU Member Devontae Torriente.

What do you do at Community Change?

I’m the Digital Strategist on the communications team. I manage our messaging research work, overall digital communications for the organization, and digital organizing programs/power-building projects.

How long have you been a NPEU member?

I’ve been a proud NPEU member for a little over a year. I currently serve as a member of our bargaining team as we go through contract negotiations with management.

Is this your first time working in a unionized workplace? If so, how is it different from a non-union workplace you've worked in? If not, how is NPEU different from the previous union you were part of?

It is! This is my first job out of college, and I think it’s absolutely critical to get young people involved in union organizing as early as possible. I’m lucky that my first full time gig is a union shop, and even luckier that I’ve been able to dive into the weeds of union work at this stage in my career. But it shouldn’t be a matter of luck. Everyone at every step of their career should experience the power and benefits of a union.

What has your overall experience been like working at a unionized workplace?

It’s been great not only because of the tangible benefits we’ve won in terms of pay raises and the like, but because of the community I now have. It’s been really important for me as a first generation college student who joined a unionized workplace right after graduation because it’s helped stabilize what otherwise is a particularly rocky and uncertain period of my life. I believe that one of the most important things a worker can do is join a union and help sustain it. Unions at their core fight for and secure rights for the most vulnerable and marginalized folks.

What do you value most about your NPEU contract?

Hmmm, that’s tough. Specifically, I would say the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) that we’ve negotiated has been important. I live in Washington, D.C., which is notorious for its ridiculously high cost of living. The COLA accounts for what seems like a constant uptick in expenses in this city. More generally, I value the economic security it provides. I’ve spent most of my life living under pretty precarious financial conditions, so to now have some more assurance that I deserve and will be paid a living wage is a big deal.

How would you like to see NPEU grow or develop in the next 5 years?

I’d like to see NPEU (maybe in partnership with other unions in the area) make an active effort to do outreach with high school- and college-aged students in DC. We should familiarize young people with how unions work, what it means to be in one, and why they should prioritize joining one or starting one at their workplace after they graduate. I think there’s a real opportunity for NPEU to change the game and strengthen the union/progressive movement by investing in young people!

What do you like to do outside of work?

I watch TV. Like, a lot of TV. (Can we PLEASE talk about the Big Little Lies season 2 finale or the gloriousness that is Pose?) Relatedly, I also avidly consume pop culture through music. I keep up with new releases every week (New Music Friday!) and love discovering new artists to stan. Also, I’m not a vegan, but I love finding new vegan recipes and restaurants to try out and switch things up! If you haven’t been to NuVegan yet, I highly recommend it.

Do you have any skills or talents that you could offer NPEU members, if they need it?

My expertise is in digital organizing and social media management, so I can put together social media toolkits, advise on managing social media profiles, and help run digital advertising campaigns. Generally, my background is in electoral and issue campaigns, so I’m also available to help in various roles on those fronts as well!

What are your social media handles?

Twitter: @devntae, Facebook: /dvntae, Instagram: @devntae, and LinkedIn: /in/Devontae. You’re welcome to connect with me on any and all social media platforms to talk about TV or how we can support each other’s work! #1u