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On contract teach-ins

New York Teacher

I have never before felt a synergy in a room like the one I felt as my members and I shared ideas at our contract teach-in on Jan. 30. We built upon each other’s thoughts, while learning about what our contract entails and how it came to be.

Typically, when I mention anything pertaining to the contract, most of my peers are uninterested. They generally rely on me to understand each article and guide them when they have issues. At our teach-in, that accountability shifted. It was no longer about what the chapter leader knew; it was now what we all have a responsibility to know.

We broke down what our favorite benefits of the contract were. I then asked my peers how they thought these contract articles came to be. We collectively began to understand that the rights we benefit from today are based on the sweat equity of the teachers of yesteryear. I explained how these union members of the past fought so we could benefit now. I asked them, “Who will fight for the teachers of the future? What rights will they benefit from based on our efforts?”

What made Jan. 30 even more powerful was knowing that schools across the city were educating one another in unison. Contract Action Team members were adequately prepared with knowledge and a toolkit of resources that met our school needs, which made facilitating a conversation unforced and smooth.

We are educators and our union works for us, and it’s only fair that we work as a unified body for our union!

Leah Cromer, Chapter Leader
PS 116, Queens

The teach-in, so far as I understand it, is actually a way to educate us, the educators, on how contract negotiations work, what we can and can’t negotiate and how collective bargaining works. It’s a way for those of us who are not on the negotiating committee to be connected and informed as much as possible and then turn-key it to our colleagues in our chapter (and beyond).

It’s how we use our collective power as a union to fight for what’s best and work together with the negotiating committee to empower us all.

Sign up. Do it. I’ll see you there.

Marissa Solomon-Garcia, New Utrecht HS, Brooklyn,
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