Kim Nichols: From a Pool Driver to a Foreman

Foreman Kim Nichols

Nearly 14 years ago, Kim Nichols started working for the City of Chicago as a Pool Motor Truck Driver in the Department of Aviation at O’Hare. Today, Kim has come full-circle from where she started and is a well-respected Foreman among her peers and has an addictively positive attitude that shines from within.

After the snow season ended in 2004, Kim was laid-off from O’Hare and went to work at CDOT for the next few years. She called the union and put in a waiver so that she wouldn’t be permanently placed at CDOT, and was able to go back to O’Hare as a pool driver in 2008. Even though she was happy to be “home,” Kim longed to become career service. In early 2012, she bid on a dispatcher position, but due to a glitch in the application, it never got submitted after she tried multiple times.

Never giving up on her goal, Kim took the City’s Foreman test in June 2012 and placed seventh on the list of candidates for Foreman. The City determines rankings by test score, and then time and title. When a Foreman position became available to bid on, she successfully submitted her application on the first try and in October of 2012, she got a call from Streets & Sanitation.

“God must have meant for me to have this position for some reason,” said Kim.

When Kim went down to City Hall that Friday to fill out the paperwork and make it official, she was met with a standing ovation in the Human Resources office.

“Everyone stood up and clapped and I thought it was because they finally found someone to fill this Foreman position that no one wanted,” said Kim. But she soon learned that everyone was congratulating her because she was the first pool driver to make career service as a Foreman in the City. Ever.

Kim was the Foreman for the Northwest yard at Streets and Sanitation until March 31, 2014, managing up to 100 drivers in the snow season and learning how to do payroll. When she heard there was a Foreman position open at O’Hare, she knew she could go “home” once again.

The City requires all Foremen to retake the Foreman test when they are bidding on a position that is in a different department than where they currently work. The second time Kim took the Foreman test, she scored high and was placed first on the list of candidates. It wasn’t long before the Department of Aviation called, and she became the Foreman of MTDs at O’Hare on April 1, 2014.

“It was awesome to be home,” said Kim. “Everyone welcomed me with open arms.”

While Kim wasn’t planning on leaving O’Hare at all, the opportunity presented itself when a day shift Foreman position became available in the Department of Water. She took the Foreman test for the third time, and placed first on the list again. On Aug. 1, 2017, Kim became the Foreman for the Department of Water, South District, and knew the day shift would work out better for herself and her family.

“I have been very blessed over the course of my career with the City of Chicago,” said Kim. “I wake up every morning and thank God for helping me through everything. I love being a Foreman. I treat people how I want to be treated – I always have. Respect is earned, not given. I’m trying to make this District a better place to work by creating camaraderie among the drivers, increasing morale and having an open door policy. I take pride in my job and give 110 % every day. No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, but as long as we learn from them, we can grow.”

Kim’s goal from the beginning was to make career service in the City. When she heard that a large group of the pool drivers would be made career service through the new contract, she was truly happy for them to receive that blessing.

“The union has supported me since day one when I first started as a pool driver,” said Kim. “I will never forget where I came from and the guidance I received from Greg Ortiz, Ramon Williams and Carlos Sanchez. The union has my back and I appreciate that greatly. And, special thanks to Deputy Commissioner William Helm and the outstanding airfield training I received from Edward Dickman. I trained and passed the test to be certified to drive on the airfield in 10 days. I would not change a thing about my journey to get to where I am today.”



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