“A union’s power rests on how many workers will act together and how strong an action they will take.” This is an excerpt from an article I read this week, “The Only Way to Survive Janus” published by Labor Notes.
On more than one occasion in my building I have heard the statement, as I’m sure several of you probably have too, “The union doesn’t have any power, especially after Act 10. What can the union really do anymore?” It’s true that Act 10 stripped away a lot legalities, but it didn’t take away our ability to stand together and advocate on behalf of our profession and our students.
Over the last few weeks, teachers’ unions in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma have shown us that the ability to affect real change and true power lies in our collective action as educators. Proof of us this could be seen more locally in the Kenosha Unified Board Room just last Tuesday, when KEA members and educators mobilized to the school board meeting to address teaching and learning challenges that educators and students are facing.
Since the beginning of this year, KEA leadership has made multiple attempts at collaboration with district leadership, only to be refused. This inspired KEA leaders and members to come together to force the district to acknowledge our voice and expertise as educators, and to insist that they engage in regular meet and confer sessions with a broad-base committee of KEA members.
Members wearing red packed the boardroom and supported their fellow educators who stood at the podium stating that the only way to truly advocate for our students is for the district to give teachers, education support professionals, substitutes, and everyone in between, a seat at the table. As a result of this collective action, Dr. Sue publicly agreed to meet with the KEA’s broad-base committee on April 17th at 4:30 p.m. Those that spoke at the meeting were intelligent and inspiring – you can watch their statements at the meeting here (starting at 41:08).
I truly believe that this meeting would not have happened had it not been for our members standing together and supporting one another. Actions like this are proof that when we fight, we can win.
I want to encourage you all to reach out to colleagues in your building that aren’t members yet and share this story with them. Tell them that the only way to see real change in our classrooms is through educators acting collectively to stand up for our students and our profession because together we are stronger.
Jill Jensen, KEA President
Read the full article: “The Only Way to Survive Janus” – Labor Notes