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April 14, 2016
 
In This Issue:

JEA EE Evaluation Workshop Will Pay Off
Region 6 RA is May 21
Learn More About Your Legal Benefits
Get Your Free Postcards Here
SCFL Workplace Organizing Workshop is April 27
We Make Good Things Happen

Sometimes when we succeed we are forced to acknowledge that we are wrong about why we fail. Several good things have happened in WEAC Region 6 recently that are causes for celebration and also serve as this sobering reminder.
 
The Beloit Education Association and Beloit Secretarial Union have been publicly celebrated by Beloit's school administrators for creating and building a strong minority teacher scholarship program. In Marshall, MEA activists have prevailed upon the school board to reverse an administrative decision to lay off veteran teachers. In Darlington, Evansville, Belleville, Mount Horeb, Milton, Dodgeville and a handful of locals throughout Region 6, union membership is increasing rather than stagnating.
 
As educators in Wisconsin in 2016, we frequently confront disappointment and bad news. We just do. Many of our state's problems manifest themselves in school districts, classrooms and in our union. Some of these are problems that elected officials create-like Act 10-and others are problems they can't or won't solve-like child poverty, income inequality, drug addiction and broken homes. Challenges that negatively affect our students have a way of affecting us.
 
As union members, we confront an additional set of disappointments. Membership in the union is not as high as we would like it to be. Administrators and school boards sometimes do not cooperate with the union and do not treat employees with enough respect. We can't do our jobs as well as we could because of bad decisions our bosses make. Our pay is low and our benefits are being diminished.
 
The explanations we offer for why bad things happen are not unreasonable. We say potential members are not joining the union because their budgets are tight and they don't know enough about what the union does. We say non-renewals are impossible to reverse because the system is rigged against us. We say administrators and boards treat us badly because that is just the way they are.
 
As reasonable as those explanations sound, they don't explain why membership is growing in several of our locals. Apparently it is not impossible to reverse an administrator's non-renewal, because the MEA just did it. If administrators are just fundamentally anti-union then the administration in Beloit would not take time to give BEA and BSU credit for their accomplishments and allot space for the union on the district's own website.

Region 6 leaders are looking closely at these success stories so we can figure out how to replicate them. One thing I can say at first glance is that these unions have members who believe they can make a difference and are willing to risk failure. Too often, I believe, membership is not higher because we have not asked our colleagues to join. We don't build partnerships with administrators or outside organizations because we assume people will say no. We decide it is impossible to reverse administrative decisions so we don't even try.

Sometimes I wonder if we are our own worst enemy. Do we talk in our locals about our union and the incredible things collective action and engagement have accomplished and can accomplish? No one else is serving as advocates for teachers and the education professions. Virtually every victory for public education is won by education employee unions. The teach-more, test-less movement exists because of unions, and we can take credit for specific and significant progress like the recent passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Is this something we make an effort to tell the people we work with? The common thread that runs through all the success is engagement, and unfortunately the place we succeed least is engaging our colleagues. The best way to maintain and advance these achievements is to engage our brothers and sisters locally, in the buildings where we work.
 
Maybe you disagree with me. Better yet, maybe you have a success story from your local that you wish I had included here. If you do, please email me or call the Region 6 office at 1-800-397-2287. I would love to hear more good news.

Sincerely,

Mark Lindsey
President of WEAC Region 6
JEA Hosting Educator Effectiveness in Evaluation Workshop

On April 21, Janesville Education Association members will learn how to be successful in the CESA 6 Teacher Performance Evaluation System of Educator Effectiveness from Educator Effectiveness experts.
 
In Janesville, as in many school districts, teacher pay can be affected by how Educator Effectiveness principles are reflected in employee evaluations. This workshop will give JEA members a leg up in this process.
 
WEAC teaching and learning consultant Jeff Bass and JEA executive committee member and Educator Effectiveness facilitator Stacy Glowacki will lead the workshop. Jeff Bass is available to conduct these workshops and others like them throughout Region 6 for locals that are interested in working with him.
 
If you are interested in having a workshop in your school district talk to a local union leader or your local's Region 6 director, or call the WEAC Region 6 office at 1-800-397-2287.
Region 6 Representative Assembly is May 21

At the first WEAC Region 6 representative assembly in May 2014, delegates voted on a constitution and set of bylaws that combined 5,000 members and local unions from four UniServ offices into one region.
 
This year's Region 6 representative assembly will be Saturday, May 21, in Madison. Contact your building representative, a local union officer, or the Region 6 office to attend the RA or serve as a delegate.
 
Delegates will set the Region 6 budget for 2016-17 and debate and vote on several new business items and resolutions that will set the direction of the regional organizations work for the next 12 months.
 
WEAC Region 6, consisting of local unions throughout southern and southwestern Wisconsin, provides elected leadership and professional assistance that local leaders and members use for community organizing, local advocacy, professional development, member representation, legal advice and collective bargaining. All of this together helps the members of Region 6 maximize their potential in their classrooms, in the process maximizing their students' opportunities to learn and grow.
Learn More About Your Region 6 Members-Only Legal Benefits

The Region 6 board of directors voted to extend to all Region 6 members a successful program that members of the former Rock Valley Education Professionals have long enjoyed.
 
The Collins Law Firm in Janesville has an agreement with Region 6 to provide an hour of legal advice to any Region 6 member who needs it, free of charge. Some limitations apply, but this program is for members who need non-work-related legal advice for cases such as divorces, child custody cases, estate planning, wills, personal injury and others.
 
For more information, the programs brochure is available here.
Free Postcards are Only for Region 6 Members

Region 6 is offering brightly colored postcards that can be used to provide positive communication to parents and students. 

The postcards are 4-1/4 x 5-1/2 inches and have a short phrase and graphic with enough space to write a short message. The opposite side is blank for mailing purposes.  Each card design is bundled in packs of 25 and will be available throughout the school year.

Contact staff assistant, Margo Schmidt at 800-397-2287 ext. 463 or schmidtm@weac.org to place your order.
SCFL Organizing Workshop is April 27



The South Central Federation of Labor and the UW School for Workers invite all Region 6 members to join them on April 27 for the Building Workplace Power Workshop.
 
The workshop is from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Madison Labor Temple. Dinner is served at 5 p.m. and the program begins at 5:30.

The training agenda includes:
  • Success stories from local workers
  • Review of legal rights to engage in collective activity
  • Essential organizing principles
  • Introduction to mapping the workplace
SCFL is covering the cost of the training and materials. Participants are asked to pay $10 to cover the cost of food and beverages.

Building Workplace Power is the first training within a series of classes focused on organizing around workplace issues, maintaining basics of solidarity; and developing creative forms of worker engagement.