Welcome back to a new school year. I hope that you have all had an opportunity to take some time off and recharge. I always LOVE the summer and did find some time to relax and enjoy my family. I also found time to update the webpage, meet the new teachers, and attend some meetings and union workshops. Even though it was summer, the PCT still runs strong. This year we face several issues of key importance for our future as professionals and as union members. The officers and reps of the PCT will be busy as we begin the negotiations process, work to maintain the strength of our local, and increase member engagement.
As our contract will expire at the conclusion of the school year, we will soon come together to begin the negotiations process. While this might be an onerous and sometimes difficult task, it is a right that our predecessors in this district have fought for and a right that our colleagues across the country yearn for. To begin to see the value that belonging to a Union has, one need only to compare the benefits of our current contract to the lack of benefits in the contracts of the educational staff in right to work (for less) states. Shortly your SRC reps will begin organizing in the buildings for negotiations.
How apropos that we take on these negotiations within the frame of current events. We have always been a strong local that stands together and does the hard things in support of our negotiations. That is why we are successful. The last few months we have observed our colleagues across the country rise-up in protest against the lack of support for educators and public education. We have seen how unity even in the face of personal discomfort and fear while striking and picketing, can give one courage and that same unity creates change.
Another item high on our agenda this year will be to maintain the strength and unity of our local in the Post Janus world. Wealthy special interests have been fighting for years to undercut unions and roll back the benefits earned by working families. Immediately upon the Supreme Court decision, emails were sent out from these groups to union members advising us that we could now receive the benefits of union membership while not paying union dues – or freeload on the backs of our colleagues. Our dues are an investment in ourselves. The amount we would pay for benefits or the money we would lose in salary advances is far greater than the cost of our dues. Our benefits and salaries are not gifted to us by benevolent higher ups, they have been earned and negotiated. The bottom line is that we have all always had a choice to join or remain in a union. Nothing about that has changed. Why decide now to drop your membership?
Anti-union forces think they can seize this opportunity to convince our members to abandon our union in an effort to diminish our voice in the workplace and weaken our strength at the bargaining table. What the special interests don’t realize is this: Our movement is stronger than ever. I wish to thank you all for signing your re-commitment cards. With united membership, we have the power to exercise and protect our rights, to defend the things we value and to give our members a voice in the workplace. However, the task before the PCT and its members this year will be to develop policies to handle any issues that might arise should someone decide to drop their union membership. To that end we will be looking at possible amendments to our PCT constitution that will clarify the cost and conditions to rejoin the union. We also need to understand that this fight- and it is a fight- requires that we keep our eye on the bigger picture of the value of our unions and the gains we have made through them. It is about beating back the attacks on unions and the middle class. It is not always about the smaller local issues and that membership has never been about dropping out because of a personal contractual issue. While we do not get everything for everyone that we desire as a union, we certainly get more than those who are not unionized.
At the local area, we have returned to schools after a summer of much construction. There has also been an influx of later registered students. One of our middle schools is busting at the seams. I am aware that there are many issues related to the building/ teaching conditions. The PCT is working with the administration to institute solutions in a timely manner. We urge you to complete your contract surveys and return them to your building reps as soon as possible. We also continue to pursue the grievance process as it pertains to our end of year evaluations and APPR. Please inform your reps if there are any errors on your APPR scores.
A strong union also needs members who are engaged. As the saying goes “There is a U and I in Union”. We urge you to be involved! Yes, we know firsthand how busy life can be. On our side we will be looking into various ways for members to join together and have some fun. The first will be our upcoming Happy hour which was a great success last year.
In an effort to involve and communicate with members more efficiently, we have updated the website. While going through my old photos and videos, I found some interesting ones to post in addition to the regular content. I hope you will look through it. It is a work in progress so please check back often to see any new additions.
I hope that your year is off to a good start.