Nebraska Association
of Public Employees

NAPE/AFSCME Welcomes Spring Organizing Interns

Meet the five new organizing interns who recently joined our NAPE/AFSCME field team! 

Tèa Cushman is a junior criminology major at Nebraska Wesleyan University. She applied to intern at NAPE because she wanted to join the efforts to achieve social and economic justice for Nebraskans. 

“One of the best ways to achieve economic justice and secure the rights and benefits that people deserve in the workplace is to stand together with your colleagues,” she said. “Our union recognizes the value of State of Nebraska employees who improve the lives of their fellow Nebraskans.” 

Tèa is most excited to educate state employees about what our union is and how members have the power to make change. 

“I’m eager to learn more and I’m glad I’m coming into this organization at a time when so much is happening. I get to be a part of that preparation and I’m excited about the number of things going on — from the remote work fight to the upcoming contract negotiations,” she said.

For fun, Tèa reads, plays board games, goes on walks, and crochets. 

Piper Dickerson is a senior child, youth, and family studies major with a declared interest in law at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She applied to be an intern because she knew that she could learn more about labor law. Additionally, Piper grew up in a pro-union household and is familiar with the value of union membership. 

Piper has noticed that every day in the NAPE office is different.

“There’s always something new,” she said. “Every interaction is different and that’s great because you always feel like you’re helping someone in a unique way.”

Like Tèa, Piper is also excited to educate state employees about our union. 

“I feel like people don’t always know the extent to which our union protects them and it’s important that they have that knowledge because it’s easy to be taken advantage of in the workplace,” she said. “I want to be a part of educating them about their rights on the job.” 

For fun, Piper likes to travel, spend time outside, and crochet. 

Harris Jacobson is a senior political science major at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Harris’s parents are teachers and administrators and are both active members of their union. 

“Growing up in a pro-union house is a big reason I applied for this internship,” he said. “I strongly believe in the right to organize and collectively bargain. I also have some experience working blue-collar union and non-union jobs and the difference in workplace culture — and especially workplace safety standards — was very noticeable.” 

So far, Harris has enjoyed attending hearings and learning about grievance procedures. 

“My goal is to learn as much as I can about the labor movement and what it looks like from the inside, and what it takes to be a part of it,” he said. 

Harris is most looking forward to watching our union maintain its momentum and continue growing. 

In his free time, Harris spends time outdoors backpacking and rock climbing. He also attends as many Husker games as he can.

Bella Rodriguez is a junior psychology major at UNL. Originally from Kansas City, Bella applied for the NAPE internship because she wanted to get more involved in the community and Nebraska politics.

Bella said one of the biggest things she’s learned so far is that our union functions as a support system for State of Nebraska employees —- and that support system is vital to ensuring Nebraskans get the services they need.

Bella is the Vice President of recruitment for UNL’s Panhellenic Council — the Executive Team that manages all UNL sororities. Her background in sorority recruitment means that Bella brings an interesting approach to NAPE’s organizing efforts. 

“I think my past experience helps me because I know how to make people feel comfortable and how to help them become open to the idea of getting involved in something that they might not otherwise be interested in,” she said.

Bella’s goal over the course of her internship is to educate employees who have recently graduated from college about the importance of being a union member. She wants to see more people around her age become active members of our union.

For fun, Bella enjoys going on road trips with her friends. Most recently, she went to Gulf Shores, Alabama. 

Caitlyn Croft is a senior political science major and on the pre-law track at UNL. 

“I’ve always had an interest in governmental affairs and seeing news about the Amazon union, the Teamsters, and other large labor movements made me feel inspired about the work that unions were doing,” she said. “So, I thought interning at NAPE would be a nice combination of both government affairs and the labor movement.” 

Caitlyn is most excited about getting to interact with our union members. 

“I like getting to hear real stories,” she said. “I’ve always liked engaging with others and hearing their perspectives. I’ve also always been a problem solver, and that’s ultimately what our union does — we solve problems and fight injustices in the workplace.”

During her time as an intern, Caitlyn is determined to help maintain our union’s growth. 

“Seeing the recent resurgence in union power that has felt dormant for a while has been cool,” she said. “I’m committed to helping re-establish what unions mean for American workers.” 

For fun, Caitlyn goes on very long walks. She enjoys Nebraska’s nature and national parks.

We know that our union will keep growing, and we’re excited that our five new organizing interns are determined to be a part of that growth.

Nebraska Association of
Public Employees