NCAE member Heather Watson gets that without a voice, educators won’t have enough power to change the ills facing public education. It’s why she dedicated her time this summer to work as a Summer Member Organizer.
With all that is happening with public education, Heather said it just made sense for her to do so. She was part of the phone bank team that helped recruit new members as well as made good, solid contacts with potential members.
“I had conversations with educators about their current workplace concerns, trends they saw in the county and what it would take to change things for the better in our schools,” said Watson, a member of the Wayne County Association of Educators (WCAE) and teacher at Brogden Primary School.
“My goal was to make sure the conversations ended with a positive feeling of being heard and a start to a relationship that could be revisited in the future as we work towards membership.”
The program concluded this week, but the work of membership remains a top priority for SMOs like Heather as they prepare to return to their worksites. The work hasn’t always been easy over the past several weeks, but it has been rewarding as seen by the smiles, cheers and chants of “Exponential Growth” that reverberated during an online celebration. The SMOs shared their successes, how they grew as individuals, and what they learned about organizing.
The work and dedication over the past five weeks yielded the following: 7,350+ doors knocked, 1,100+ phone calls, 1,700+ conversations, 353 new active members, and 35 new community allies and retired members.
Below are some of the reflections shared by other SMOs during the celebration:
- SMO Daniel Webb shared how awesome it felt to have genuine conversations with potential members and to have a connected interest in what they had to say in an effort to lead them to the Association.
- A really difficult conversation with an individual almost left SMO Franklin Keel deflated. However, when she asked him if he wanted her to join, he said, “Absolutely I want you to join,” and she did!
- SMO Jana Hoekema said she learned so much about organizing because she knew nothing coming in.
- Debriefing locations served as a place where prospective members could be found, asked to join and become part of the NCAE family, as SMO Rae LaGrone experienced.
- “As someone who has struggled to pay my dues, I felt hesitant and guilty at first about asking folks to join," said SMO Shanna Peel. “But I learned how many people are devoted to this union and now I feel more confident about asking people to become members, a skill I will take back with me as I begin school. This has been a valuable opportunity.”
Before wrapping up the celebration, commitments were made to do everything from wrapping SMOs into local affiliate organizing structures in order to win a majority density, to bringing hope to educators who feel hopeless and burned out, to continuing to smile at potential members so they can’t resist joining.