This legislative session is shaping up to be a challenging one. Now more than ever, our collective strength will enable us to serve the needs of our students and members.
During the 2016 Campaigns we heard our candidates speak out eloquently in support of public education and labor unions. We also heard the same anti-labor, anti-teacher, anti-public education rhetoric. Sadly, many of those supporting these views have won office.
We know that our union experience is far different than the cliches, scapegoating, and name-calling. My union experience starts with recognizing and supporting the mission of my school – delivering the best possible educational experience for our students, supporting all those that make that experience possible, and, since we are a public institution, advocating for legislative support at the local, state and federal level.
“I get the support of a huge group of people who believe in what I do every day.” – J.P., Exeter Education Association
“I am proud to be a member of NEA-NH because of the relentless pursuit of excellence by its members. NEA-NH fulfills its core value – we promote excellence in education.” – K.M., Bedford Education Association
“I’m very proud to have the NEA-NH represent my interests at the State House in Concord. At a time when public education is being attacked by many legislators, it is vital that we fight back. I learn from NEA when I should call my legislators and what the issues are”. – S.T., Prospect Mountain Education Association
My union experience means my voice matters – in the workplace and in the union.
“I am proud to be an NEA-NH member for lots of reasons, but the one that stands out the most to me is that NEA-NH has given me a voice. A voice to help my colleagues, peers, students and most of all myself. NEA-NH has opened lots of doors for many, but to me, the door to standing up for myself is the most important. Thank you NEA-NH and its volunteers and affiliates. You’ve given me something to be proud of.” – JF, CEAA
“I like the fact that I can vote on our budget! Also that if I needed support, NEA would represent me.” – D.H., InterLakes Education Association
“I love being a member of NEA-NH because I have a voice and am able to vote on important issues in both our local association and the state association. The benefits provided to members are excellent. In today’s world having legal council is most important.“ – B.T., InterLakes Support Staff Association
My union experience is about dignity and respect. It includes a recognition of the dignity of my work, and of me as a human being with rights that I do not give away simply because I receive a paycheck for my work. It includes respect for my education and training, my dedication to those in my care, and for the difference I make each day in the lives of my students.
“I am proud to be a member of an organization that works so tirelessly to support the rights of its members.” – J.G., Manchester Education Association
“We have raised the respect of others for support staff. We get many more benefits and a much better pay scale. We have kept jobs that would have been lost without NEA-NH.” – A.G., Mascenic Education Support Staff Association
My union experience includes Weingarten Rights should I ever be called into a meeting with my supervisor and HR representative. As someone protected by a collective bargaining agreement, I can say: “If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative or officer be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion.” Once my representative arrives, they have the right to be informed about the subject matter of the meeting; to consult privately with me before the meeting; to speak and be proactive during the meeting, as long as doing so does not interfere with or disrupt the meeting; to advise and counsel me; to provide additional information to the supervisor at the end of questioning; and to bear witness to the proceedings, and to take notes.
“The unity NEA-NH brings to our school makes people feel supported. Personally, I was in need of legal support last year and I was successful with my grievance.” – M.K., Madison Education Association
My union experience includes a charitable arm that provides items or services essential to success in school, including clothes, glasses, medical and dental care, food, transportation, or related services not provided by another agency. Since 1996, NEA-NH’s Children’s Fund has provided over $135,000 in assistance to NH students from pre-K to college because a student’s physical, social or emotional needs should never stand in the way of classroom success.
“NEA-NH doesn’t let the public forget the complexities of working in public education – what it is like to see children who come to school hungry and with no coat or boots.” – M.P., Oyster River Teachers Guild
We believe that we should all work together to find the best solutions and most efficient way to deliver services. But without our union, our voices, ideas, and experience carry no weight in these efforts. Without our union we are advisors at best – not partners. And in the end, administrators and school boards would do whatever they want.
These same forces talk about efficiency and saving money for the towns and taxpayers. Efficiency means achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. Far too often minimizing expenses always seems to be done on the backs of those teaching or assisting in classrooms, driving busses, caring for the facilities, and serving lunches.
Our long-term security is dependent on the longterm success of the districts that employ us. That success however, cannot come from constant concessions from our members.
Attacks on public education, opportunity and fairness are not ancient history. As the legislative season restarts and we enter into contract negotiations, those who label us as selfish villains and thugs have already renewed their attacks on us and all that we stand for.
We believe that every child in NH deserves a great public school, and caring qualified educators. We believe that there is greatness in every child and dedicate our work lives to ensuring they each get a chance to prove it. We expect fair treatment and respect from administrators and superintendents, and hope that our elected officials will help us in our mission rather than degrade our profession and defund our efforts.
For more than 150 years we have achieved great things because we are NEA-NH. We are proud of who we are, what we do, what we have accomplished, and what we stand for.