Young Immigrant Finds ‘Family’ Love at Work

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Dziubek carves out niche at NYU and in union

By Gavin Aronsen

Anna Dziubek’s weekdays begin at 7 a.m. at 721 Broadway, where she cleans New York University’s offices.

It’s a straightforward job with a standard routine—she attends to dirty floors, hallways, classrooms and bathrooms and checks them again in the afternoon before her shift ends—but since starting four years ago she has discovered a real sense of community here with others who work in the building.

Anna Dziubek, 23, cleans offices and classrooms at NYU. She moved here from Poland eight years ago and says people at work treat her like family. Photo by Karl Crutchfield

“It’s really good to have people to talk to,” she said. “It’s not only about the job. They also talk to me about my life. It’s nice. They love me, and I love to work with them.”

The 23-year-old moved to the United States from Poland eight years ago after she heard friends speaking highly of the country. She left her parents and two brothers in her home country, but Dziubek has found a new home in New York.

“I came to America because I was curious how it was to live here,” she said. “I met my husband here and I stayed.”

Dziubek also has three sisters and a brother who live in Italy.

“I’m missing my family,” she said. “I go sometimes to visit them.”

But, she added, “I think life is better and easier here than in Europe.”

There is, of course, more to Dziubek’s life in New York than the friendly faces that greet her while she vacuums office floors before leaving the university building.

She is an active member of the 32BJ SEIU, the nation’s biggest property service workers union.

Dziubek works as a political organizer at the union after her cleaning job ends, and she is especially busy there now that Election Day is just around the corner on Nov. 2.

“I’m trying to make my union stronger and help them out,” she said.

After a long day, she enjoys unwinding with friends. She is partial to barbecues and other outdoor activities with them.

On her days off, Dziubek likes to take a break from the bustling city life, when she again opts for the outdoors. She said she loves traveling to upstate New York, where she goes to see the mountains and swim in lakes.

“It’s not always the job,” she said. “Usually I’m trying to spend every weekend outside of New York City.”

But when the time comes again, she has no problems returning to the daily grind of her Manhattan cleaning job.

“I love this job, really,” she said. “The people are really nice to me. They treat me as family, and they’re always smiling. They’re happy when I’m coming.”

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