The first month of the school year is when we admit that the items from our personal to-do lists that we didn’t get to over the summer will have to wait until next summer. It is when we realize our lesson plans need revision because they are not quite right for this year’s group of students. It is when we set new goals and let go of old ideas.
It is also when all locals in WEAC Region 6 conduct back-to-school union membership drives. In Oregon, where I teach, we held meetings with newly hired staff and returning members during the last week of August. We have followed up those meetings with building-level meetings and one-on-one conversations between members and potential members.
People don’t join the union if they are not asked. Students don’t know the rules if nobody tells them what the rules are. Members will not continue to belong to an organization if no one tells them what it does. Communication is everything in our business.
When I talk about membership I talk about the initiatives the Oregon Education Association is undertaking to build on our successful school board election organizing work. When we meet with returning OEA members and potential members we talk about our plans to continue working with the school board, to help teachers take control of their Professional Development Plans and Educator Effectiveness requirement, and to improve our local’s own internal communications processes. We talk about the Region 6 office and how it enhances all of our local efforts.
Too often, these essential communications about what the union is and what it is doing are left to too few of us. Meetings among colleagues are important. One-on-one conversations between colleagues are even more important. In order to have as many of these conversations as possible we need as many people participating in them as possible. We need to talk to everyone, and we can’t if only one or two people are doing all of the talking.
Please join the conversation. Start today. If the educators working in the classrooms next to yours are not union members, seek them out and tell them why you joined. At the end of those conversations, put membership forms in their hands and ask them to join.
Our union is strong because of our members. The more people we have, the better it is for all of our locals and our region as a whole. When we add one member to our union we add more than just that one member. We add every person that member talks to and influences, inside and outside the school. These are the people the staff can count on when we need support in the community.
That is why talking about membership is now everyone’s responsibility. You owe it to yourself as a union member to talk about your union membership to other prospective members. Their membership makes your membership more valuable. Your reasons for continuing your membership will be their reasons for starting and continuing theirs.
People are starting to notice the great things our union is doing. I am recommending that everyone read the column legendary Capital Times editor Dave Zweifel wrote about Region 6. You can also refer potential members to the “For the Record” show that three Region 6 members starred in on WISC-TV in August. Most of our colleagues want to be part of this.
If you will get more involved in your local union’s recruiting efforts and don’t know how, please email me today at Region6.firstname.lastname@example.org or call the WEAC Region 6 office at 1-800-397-2287. There is a place for you. We just have to put you in it.
President of Region 6