Lately people, when they pass me in the hall, have been asking me how I think negotiations are going to go in the upcoming year. I just ask them the same question back – and that’s usually enough. Sadly, education employees are a seriously demoralized bunch. It’s been a tough several years to work in education in the state, and in many ways, exceedingly so in this district. It seems to me that the Mount Olive district is genuinely enamored of gadgets, but seems disinterested in anything that breathes or has a pulse – we have been relegated to the term “recurring expenditures” – a line item to be trimmed to the smallest possible point.
So, to answer the question, negotiations are likely to be stressful and possibly ugly in the coming year – we must let the district understand that by doing damage to their employees, they make all the fancy gadgets that they buy useless, and do damage to the students of this community. Mostly, they seem to have an acquired ignorance on this matter – not recognizing that cutting into someone’s livelihood while you spend hundreds of thousands on a failed tablet fiasco, for example, might rub salt into the wound. We must enlighten them to this – as to the nature of this engagement, we will have to come up with some ideas – a new tack is likely needed.
On this, and in so many ways, I need your help. Or rather, you need your help. Over the years I have occasionally gone apoplectic when some administrator makes some decree that causes havoc when they could have more easily and effectively asked their professionals for a plan to fix some arising problem. Instead they often roll out a solution that, by design, cannot take in all the understanding and experience that a large group of minds has to offer.
Strangely, the union often functions in this very manner. People go to the president and expect that he or she will have the knowledge, wisdom, time, and skill to fix it.
As if. When I was young I often had the arrogance to think I was the smartest person in a room – I suffer no such delusions now. What I do know is that we have a lot of work to do, and that I am not smart enough to figure it out.
The exec board will be meeting at my place this summer to have a planning session for the year (on the whole gamut, not just negotiations.) I know one thing that will be brought up: involvement. It is the perennial gripe of those that do the work of the union. The usual marker for these things is attendance at meetings. Personally I understand why people don’t go to meetings – I personally prefer root canals and have a hard time going to meetings that I’m running, much less ones in which I have to go and listen. But we have work that needs to get done – if you want your work place to be better for you and your various colleagues, the association is the only venue to make that possible, and the association is only powerful with involvement.
So, I put it to you all, the many who are wiser, smarter, and more creative than me. (especially those of you who are younger and not so carved in stone in the way of doing things like those of us who have been playing this silly game for more than two decades). How do we get people involved? What great idea will help us communicate better? The ball is in your court – contact me here.