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February 3, 2016
 
In This Issue:

Stay Ahead of Voter ID in Spring Elections
Fast $50 Ends February 29
Don't Mess with WRS!
Labor History Essay Contest Deadline is February 13
WEAC Professional Issues Conference is March 4-6
Region 6 Funding Available for NEA ESP Conference
Reminder for Credit Card Dues Payers
Stand Up for Yourself

Our union's democracy is one of its great strengths. We are an organization of educators for educators, and union leadership is responsive to members' needs in no small part because we have the same needs. I am the Region 6 president and I am also a full-time social studies teacher at Oregon High School.
 
We govern ourselves at the national level by sending delegates to the annual National Education Association Representative Assembly (NEA RA) to participate in debate, propose resolutions and new business items, and vote on policy and budgetary issues.
 
The NEA RA is composed of more than 10,000 delegates from throughout the United States. All of the delegates are public education employees: teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians, food service workers, bus drivers and everyone who makes our great public schools succeed. We vote on dozens of proposals. When the vote is very close we are asked to stand to make sure our votes are counted the way we intended. When this happens, we are thousands of educators literally standing up for ourselves.
 
To demonstrate the importance of this self-governance, and to make sure that our region's perspective is represented, the WEAC Region 6 Board of Directors voted at our own RA last May to support Region 6 NEA RA delegates financially.
 
WEAC Region 6 will fund one attendee from each of its five zones for up to $2,000 for expenses related to attending the 2016 NEA RA, July 2-7, in Washington D.C. Each local can submit one delegate's name to the Region 6 office on or before February 29, 2016. Each local's submitted delegate will be included in that local's zone's lottery. Once members are funded, their locals are excluded from future funding until each of the other locals within that zone has had one of its members selected for funding. Submit the names via email to Region 6 associate Barb Simpson at simpsonb@weac.org. If you have any questions, call the WEAC Region 6 office at 1-800-397-2287 or email me at Region6.weac.wi@gmail.com.
 
If you can't make it to the NEA RA, consider being a delegate at the Region 6 RA or WEAC RA in April. If you can't make it to any of these RAs talk to your colleagues who can and encourage them to go. At a time when so many politicians and interest groups are telling us to sit down and shut up, this is one great way to stand up to them and stand up for ourselves.
 
Sincerely,

Mark Lindsey
President of WEAC Region 6
Voter ID Law in Effect for Spring Elections

Wisconsin's voter photo ID law will be in effect in 2016 starting with the Spring Primary on February 16. Voters must show photo IDs to vote at the polls and absentee voters must mail photocopied photo IDs with their ballots. Valid Wisconsin drivers licenses are one acceptable form of photo ID, and there are other options for voters who do not have drivers licenses.
 
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin has produced a comprehensive flyer explaining the law and how voters can get the photo IDs they need in order to exercise their constitutional right to vote. The flyers can be printed and handed out to people who might need information about how to get the right photo ID.
 
"Voter ID is back and voters need to be prepared to bring their IDs to the polling place," said Kevin Kennedy, Wisconsin's chief election official.
 
More information about voting absentee, finding your polling place, and all questions related to voting this spring can be found on the My Vote Wisconsin website.
Fast $50: Earn Rewards for Recruiting New Members

With money from a WEAC grant, WEAC Region 6 has launched the Fast $50 Recruitment Incentive project to reward Region 6 members who sign up colleagues to join the union.
 
Research and experience show that potential union members are much more likely to join if they are approached face-to-face by someone they work with. Many teachers who do not belong to the union say that they have never been asked to join.
 
From now until February 29, 2016, any Region 6 member who signs up a new Region 6 member will win $50 for every new recruit. The project's guidelines and   compensation claim form are available on the Region 6 website.
 
The union gains strength with each new member who joins. This project comes as the result of a successful grant proposal that Region 6 leaders and staff submitted to complement ongoing membership organizing and recruitment efforts.
 
 If you have questions, call the WEAC Region 6 office at 1-800-397-2287 and say you need more information about the Fast $50 Recruitment Incentive project.
Hey, Legislature: Don't Mess with WRS!

WEAC Region 6 members are contacting their legislators and telling them to reject the rush to make changes to the highly successful and much emulated Wisconsin Retirement System.
 
Senate Bill 328 (and Assembly Bill 398) would reduce benefits paid under the "formula benefit" for educators and other public employees. Currently your pension is based on a three-year average of your highest annual salary; the bill would change it to a five-year average.
 
For public employees who retire at age 57 with 25 years of service this change would reduce their retirement benefits by $70 per month. You can calculate the impact this bill would have on your pension by using the calculator available on the Department of Employee Trust Funds website.
 
The WRS is fully funded and there is no reason to change a system that works exceptionally well. This bill does nothing to benefit taxpayers. It only hurts retirees who have dedicated their careers to public service.
 
Keep up the pressure on your legislators to reject this legislation. Tell them not to mess with the WRS.
 
To get involved, email to your legislators today through the Take Action! section of WEAC.org.
Last Chance to Get Your Students into the Labor History Essay Contest

All Wisconsin high school students (grades 9-12) are eligible to participate in a high school essay contest conducted annually by the Wisconsin Labor History Society. The contest is open now, and students have until February 13, 2016 to submit their essays.
 
Students are asked to write an essay of approximately 750 words on the subject of, "Unions have been important to my family and my community because ..."
 
Up to eight prizes are awarded, including one $500 first-place prize, one $300 second-place prize, one $200 third-place prize, and up to five $100 prizes for honorable mention. Last year's first-place winner was a student from Deforest High School in WEAC Region 6.
 
More information about the contest is available on the Wisconsin Labor History Society website.
Deadline to Register for WEAC Professional Issues Conference is Feb. 8


The deadline to register for the March 4-6 WEAC Professional Issues Conference in Wisconsin Dells is February 8. Room availability is not guaranteed after February 8.
 
The 2016 WEAC Professional Issues Conference will focus on building the knowledge and skills of educators. Through the conference, WEAC offers members the connections, tools, learning opportunities, and resources they need to promote meaningful and purposeful professional learning and embed it in the school day.
 
Registration fees include all materials, meals and lodging. The student conference registration fee is $50. The ESP and active member registration fee is $99. The non-member registration fee is $280.
Region 6 Funding Still Available for NEA ESP Conference



WEAC Region 6's leaders voted last year to allot funding for Region 6 ESP members who attend the NEA ESP Conference March 11-13 in Orlando, Florida.
 
The NEA ESP conference is the NEA's premier professional development opportunity for Education Support Professionals. The goal of the conference is to enhance the skills and knowledge of ESP members to positively impact student achievement, build community relations, organize members, advocate for educators, build stronger locals, and help our members do their jobs better. The conference offers more than 50 hands-on workshops over four days.
 
WEAC Region 6 will fund one attendee from each of its five zones for up to $2,000 for expenses related to attending the 2016 NEA ESP Conference. Each local can submit one delegate's name to the Region 6 office. Each local's submitted delegate will be included in that local's zone's lottery. Once members are funded, their locals are excluded from future funding until each of the other locals within that zone has had one of its members selected for funding. Submit the names via email to Region 6 associate Barb Simpson at simpsonb@weac.org.

 
ESP members who would like to attend but have not registered can still get on the conference waiting list or register for the conference on the first day of the conference.   More information about the conference and how to register is available on the NEA website.

Find Region 6 on Facebook and Twitter
 
WEAC Region 6's Facebook page is updated daily and attracts a lot of traffic. To join the group and be in on the action, go to the page and click "Like." Once you're on the page you will find helpful links and updates.
 
Region 6's Twitter feed has up-to-the-minute links to current events and helpful resources. Go to the Region 6 page and click "follow."