Welcome back for another year!
I’m Ellen Ogintz, and I’m president of the East Windsor Education Association.
I hope you all had an enjoyable and relaxing summer.
On behalf of the entire association, I want to welcome all of our new members, and potential members, to the most challenging, exciting, and rewarding work in the world.
We’re all here to help you, and I hope you have a smooth transition into your new positions. As I said repeatedly at our new member luncheon, don’t hesitate to ask questions, because we all know it takes time to learn the ropes.
In the audience today are the 25 colleagues from every department that make up the EWEA Executive Board. We are ALL committed to supporting you, our members, and advocating on your behalf and to remaining on of the BEST locals in the entire STATE!
That spirit of collaboration pretty much defines the work we do.
The EWEA is the vehicle for much of that collaboration, and I hope you’ll all be actively involved this year.
Being an involved part of our union means that we work together to make this district a great place to work, that we work together to make sure our students succeed. Unlike in the private sector or in a non-unionized environment, we focus on collaboration instead of competition.
In addition to the EWEA we’re also part of an even larger family.
Our immediate family in New Jersey – the NJEA – is the strongest public school employee union in the nation. All of us together make up NJEA. We are the strength of our union.
And our extended family – the National Education Association – now has 3.2 million members.
I mention this because in a world of limited resources and endless demands for them, we need to be united to make sure that public education here in East Windsor, across New Jersey, and across America gets the respect it deserves.
And that brings me to our contract…our expired contract.
That contract, and the terms and conditions of employment stay EXACTLY the same until we ratify a new contract. We will be going to mediation as soon as the mediator sends us a date. Could be October…could be November…could be later. Regardless YOU need to know our focus on what we DESERVE is clear. Our resolve to get us what we deserve is strong. We will not waiver!
There are THOUSANDS of certified, qualified, experienced teachers who are no longer teaching. The shortage? There is a shortage of appropriate compensation, respect, and allowing teachers to ACTUALLY TEACH!
Let me share one fundamental truth with you today.
Our success as an association – and the security we enjoy in our profession – is a direct function of the unity we show when times get tough.
When it comes time to let parents and the public know the quality of the work we do, and the success of our students, the unity we show through public relations and community outreach makes all the difference in the world.
And when it comes to the world of politics, make no mistake about it – the unity we show can change the entire landscape.
All of these achievements came about because of our unity and the respect that the community has for the work that we do.
We must demand the respect from them that our work and expertise commands.
You’re all members of a great association – or you’re about to be.
The coming year will be filled with challenges, but together we can meet them.
We can confront big challenges such as gun violence, economic injustice in our communities and attacks on academic freedom in our schools.
We can address staffing shortages by strengthening our profession and diversifying our workforce.
We can address whatever new obstacles and opportunities arise if we remain united.
And we can do it all in a way that supports our students, respects our colleagues and strengthens our schools.
So, we must be vigilant and demand the respect that we deserve.
We know when public education is respected, our students achieve more.
And, for our association–Unity has never been more important.
As educators, we know the power we possess.
We shape young minds every day, and our society benefits enormously from our professional dedication.
Let’s take pride in the good work we do, and let’s all commit to becoming involved in some way in the East Windsor Education Association.
Most importantly, let’s all remember to never be afraid to make the case for the respect we deserve as professionals.
Our success … and our security … depends on our unity, pure and simple.
Let’s have a great year – together!