State of the Union Address (pun intended)
After serving last year as your president, I am still happy and proud to hold this position (believe it or not). We are continuing our process of powering forward, engaging our members and creating a community of activists. Even though we had a disappointment in the recent election, I view last year as a success for many reasons. Below are some of the main accomplishments of your local over the past year.
Young Members Focus Group--We created a Young Members Focus Group last year to be able to give a voice to our younger members.
Union Activism –AFT Convention--We sent four teachers and one paraprofessional to Los Angeles in July for the American Federation of Teachers Convention. At this convention, we were awarded the Pride of the Union Award for having over 90% of our teachers as union members.
New T-shirts—--We now have the same color tshirt at West and East! Having the same color on both campuses (in this case, red, white and blue) helps to show solidarity.
Labor Day Parade—We had a great turnout this year and even went to the picnic afterwards. Next year we will be building a float and hope to have even more of you attend.
PERA—We have sent several teachers to receive training on the new evaluation tool, and we continue to work on a regular basis as a committee to finalize the upcoming evaluation tool.
LEAD—We recently applied for an AFT sponsored program called LEAD—Leadership Education and Development. A team of five union leaders will be receiving training on how to better mobilize our members and engage the community.
Negotiating Committee—We had a record 17 people run for the negotiating committee, and we have a strong new team with several younger members. We are going to begin meeting before Christmas, so be on the lookout for a survey.
Political activism—We had an event after St. Clair County Institute to get our members together to eat and then go as a group to vote early in the Nov. 4 election. We also have attended several fundraisers for candidates whom we supported.
Parties—We sponsored two successful parties—one in the winter and another in the spring. Both were well attended.
Community Activism –Turf for the Teams—We are proud to be a major donor for this project, and we will continue to support our members and any improvements that can benefit them.
Fall Social—We sponsored a fall social at Silver Creek a few weeks ago. This was a created to meet the negotiating committee as well as ask questions about evaluations.
Even though we accomplished much, I still feel we have much work to do. We must be politically vigilant, and we must continue to power forward together. This year, we hope to continue our Young Members Focus Group as well as create professional development workshops for our members. We would like to offer professional development on evaluations as well as ELIS and finances. We also want to be more transparent as we move forward into negotiating our contract, and we want to help you as much as possible in every way we can. We are all in this together, and don’t ever hesitate in seeking us out when you need something. Thank you once again for the privilege and honor of being your president.
Yours in Solidarity,
Proud alumnus, union member, and educator in District #201 since 2006.
Dr. Hentze is the author of High Finance with Hentze, a monthly blog that provides news about District 201's current financial state.