Sunday, November 29, 2015

Union Work: More Challenging Than I Expected

Years ago I served on our local union. I listened and followed the directions of the union leaders with regard to my role as a building representative. Now I am serving in that role again, and finding it to be more difficult than I thought. There are stumbling blocks which I didn't expect.

The first stumbling block is learning the culture of the board. It's been many years since I've served and the leadership has changed quite a bit. Our school system has changed as well. In face of these changes, there's lots to learn about our leadership team and the system I work in with regard to the lens of union work.

The next stumbling block is time. We meet only once a month and already I've missed a few meetings due to unexpected events. For some reason, the day the board meets tends to be one of those days that is met with unexpected needs and events.

The third stumbling block is time again, but this time it's time to work with other teachers with regard to union related issues. The teachers are all working with tight, various schedules and this means that after school hours and before school hours are usually booked with a variety of personal and professional events. Hence, it's rare to have the time to meet with one another to discuss the issues or troubleshoot a problem.

The fourth stumbling block is knowledge. I still have a lot to learn about union rules and process. Our MTA offers summer study related to this, and I think it's a good idea for new and existing membership to take advantage of that summer study.

As a union representative, it's my goal to help our union work with our school system to maintain a fair salary and working conditions for educators. When educators are paid fairly and treated with respect on the job, they then have the time and energy to do well by the students they teach. Working condition needs and salary requirements continue to evolve as the world changes around us, hence the union has to continually work to seek the best of both for the teachers in our system. I'd also like to recruit more teachers to become involved in our union because together we are stronger and can better support each other when it comes to teaching well and working with fair, equitable conditions.

Union work is more challenging than I expected, and my first goal in light of this is to best understand our union goals and work so that I can contribute accordingly. Onward.