Happy New Year, Indeed

As the New Year starts, I look back at all the good (and bad) from the year before, and how I want to move forward. For me, ringing in the New Year is a little bit like the first day of school. It is a chance to reset, reorganize, and think about the future.

With that in mind, I am excited about 2018, my first full year as president of WEAC Region 6. I am excited because of some good things that happened in December and because of what I am expecting to happen in the next 12 months.

On December 28, the Sun Prairie Education Association won its certification with 98.7 percent of the vote. Even more remarkably, almost 70 percent of the staff in Sun Prairie voted in the certification election even though it coincided with the always-busy holiday season. The last week of voting took place when everyone was off work. This confirms that educators appreciate the union and what we do.

Earlier in the month, pro-education U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones defeated Roy Moore in a major upset in Alabama, tipping the Senate closer to a pro-education majority. It might also serve as a preview of 2018 election results.

It feels like the winds of change are blowing in our favor. That means the hard work we do for the union will yield even better results.

But we have to keep doing the work. In Sun Prairie, SPEA’s leaders and building representatives went room to room to speak to everyone about the importance of voting in the certification election. This was no small undertaking, as there are nearly 700 teachers in the school district.

Something similar happened in November when all 38 Region 6 locals won their recertification elections because of the hard organizing work of leaders and building representatives throughout the region.

On January 2, our partners at AFL-CIO declared their vision for 2018 and the values it is founded upon. The AFL-CIO’s blog post the next day can serve as a blue print for our work in the coming year: “Working people want equality, good jobs, smart public investments in infrastructure and education, and fair taxes to pay for it; and that’s what every aspiring political leader this year should put forward to gain our support. We are committed to growing our unions, because the best way to win a better life is by negotiating with our employers for fair pay and benefits. Our focus is about creating a fair, equitable and good economy with respect for all people, regardless of whom we love, what we look like, what language we speak or where we were born.”

I welcome everyone who lives and works in Region 6 to join our efforts by recruiting new members and communicating with colleagues and community members about our union and our priorities. Talk to your local leaders or building representatives about how you can do this. Of course, you are also encouraged to email me anytime or call the WEAC Region 6 office at 1-800-397-2287. If this is not the sort of thing you usually do, that’s okay, because this is a new year.

In Solidarity,
Kirah Zeilinger
President of WEAC Region 6