When Teamsters Local 727 steward Janice Roberts began working at Cook DuPage Transportation in 2006, she thought it would be a short stop on her post-retirement road.
“I planned to be here two years and I’ve stayed 10,” Roberts said with a laugh.
Roberts retired in 2004 after working for the Chicago Park District for 28 years. She came on board at CDT in 2006 as a paratransit driver before becoming a customer service representative in 2008.
“I’m comfortable here, it’s close to home, and since I’m the oldest customer service rep, I’m a resource,” Roberts said. “I help the other customer service reps when they’re having problems, and I help our customers when they’re having problems. I like helping people.”
She also helps people as a member of the local school council at William H. Brown Elementary School, which she, her daughter and her grandchildren all attended. Roberts has lived in Chicago’s West Haven neighborhood — where CDT is located — her whole life.
Sports have always been a huge part of Roberts’ life, too. Nowadays, she keeps up with her grandkids’ athletic endeavors, and at 64, she still maintains her passion for sports.
“I’m proud of my age,” Roberts said. “I’ve been active all my life, and my age doesn’t stop me now.”
Roberts said her favorite sport was volleyball – “there’s no better feeling than spiking in someone’s face, especially if they’re really tall” – but she has received the most accolades for her skills as a softball player. Two of her teams, FORCE and Mixed Company, have been inducted into the Chicago 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame in River Forest, Ill.
Her desires to stay active and help people have served Roberts well in her role as union steward for CDT’s customer service representatives, a position she has held since she and her co-workers joined Local 727 in 2014.
“Now, when people are fired unjustly, they get their jobs back. Now, we have recourse and someone to fight for us and defend our rights,” Roberts said. “Being in the union is like having insurance. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”
Teamsters Local 727 represents about 1,500 paratransit workers throughout the Chicago area, including nearly 700 drivers, dispatchers and customer service reps at CDT.