February 18, 2016
In This Issue:
Saturday is the Region 6 Women's Leadership Workshop
Deadline for Region 6 NEA RA Lottery is Feb. 29
Fast $50 ends Feb. 29
Don't Mess with WRS!
Funding Still Available for NEA ESP Conference
Must Enter to Win
This Tuesday, Primary Election Day, brought more proof that great things can happen for people who show up. In low-turnout elections, the results were decided by a relatively small number of voters. And in a few places in WEAC Region 6, those voters were influenced by committed groups of hard working volunteers who worked closely with our union.
Region 6 went three for three on February 16, winning all of the referendum initiatives our locals endorsed. A $5.8 million building renovation referendum passed in New Glarus with almost 80 percent of the vote. In Jefferson and Marshall, the
JEA, MEA, Region 6 and WEAC worked hard
to pass two job-saving, school budget referendum initiatives.
If the three-year referendum had not passed in Jefferson it would have meant the elimination of several departments and the loss of many teaching and support staff jobs. There would also likely have been numerous job losses if Marshall's referendum had failed.
Leaders in the Jefferson Education Association and Marshall Education Association started by informing their members about the issues at stake in the referendum elections. Then the members voted to recommend passage of the referendum. Then the locals and the community's vote-yes committees accepted support from Region 6 and WEAC. This support helped them organize phone banks, door-to-door canvassing, targeted voter contact and other efforts. Dozens of volunteers came forward in both communities to get the work done. Some of the volunteers were teachers, school employees and parents, but not all of them. The communities in Region 6 care about their public schools and want to help.
Not all of the referendum initiatives throughout the state passed on Tuesday. In fact, about half of the referenda have failed in the two decades that Wisconsin's school revenue caps have necessitated them. By-and-large, the initiatives do not pass if people do not work hard to pass them. And they usually do pass when we commit to doing the work. You must enter to win. Your team doesn't get the trophy if it doesn't play in the tournament.
This is true of so many things in life and particularly in our world as professional educators in Wisconsin in 2016. We often face steep climbs, but we frequently succeed in local elections, issue-organizing and community organizing when we overcome our doubts and commit to doing the work. School board elections and statewide organizing campaigns against legislative attacks on the Wisconsin Retirement System are two more examples of our successes. Strong membership recruitment drives are another.
If you have not participated directly in these efforts, get in touch with your building representative or a local leader and ask what you can do. And you can always
or call the Region 6 office at 1-800-397-2287 for more suggestions. If you get in the game we can all help each other win.
President of WEAC Region 6
Region 6 Women's Leadership Training Workshop is Saturday
The first WEAC Region 6 Women's Leadership Training project is this Saturday, February 20, in Madison.
The one-day workshop will include presentations, videos, small group discussions and exercises focusing on women's communication styles, the impact of legal and legislative changes on women's professional environment, issue organizing, organizing women workers and increasing women's leadership.
The workshop starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. Lunch, beverages and snacks will be provided. It takes place in the WEAC Region 6 offices at 33 Nob Hill Road in Madison.
To join the workshop, email Region 6 staff assistant Barb Simpson at
. If you have questions, call the Region 6 office at 1-800-397-2287.
Deadline for Region 6 NEA RA Funding is February 29
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. Delegates vote on dozens of proposals. When the vote is very close delegates are asked to stand to make sure our votes are counted the way we intended. When this happens, there are thousands of educators literally standing up for themselves.
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
. If you have any questions, call the WEAC Region 6 office at 1-800-397-2287 or email me at
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.
Fast $50 Ends February 29
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
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.
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.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.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."