By Alex Hoyt, New Member Committee
That’s a wrap! The MTA New Member Committee just concluded it’s flagship programming for the year. This included the New Member Program (NMP), which offers new educators a crash course on basic union knowledge and activities, and the Basic Bargaining (BB) training, which dives a little deeper into how contracts are negotiated – the most important way that locals serve their members!
During the NMP, participants covered a wide range of critical knowledge and skills that will help them advocate for improved working and learning conditions. Topics covered included how the MTA and local union organizations are structured, the important rights and protections conferred on newer educators by achieving “professional teacher status” (plus how it is possible to get it sooner than you think), how to identify advantageous and bogus salary scales, and strategies both big and small for helping to build local union power and solidarity.
The following week, a mix of returning NMP participants and fresh faces joined the Committee to learn about bargaining – what it is, why it is important, and how it is done. Attendees began preparations first by watching Committee presenters model what one might observe in any negotiation meeting, then debriefed with observations, questions, and discussion. The following day, participants took on the roles of the fictional Towneborough negotiations team and were tasked with simulating a condensed round of negotiations with their administration. They crushed it!
As often happens, the negotiations were not as fruitful as the Towneborough team had hoped, which led us into the final piece of the Basic Bargaining program – collective action. Participants were introduced broadly to the ideas of collective action tactics (when local leadership selects particular actions to build union power and pressure on employers, such as letter writing, stand-outs, petitions, and more) and strategy (making sure that actions are successfully sequenced to achieve desired outcomes).
We think the programming was a success, but don’t take it from us! Participants themselves said that they “understood their contract better,” and came to know the “value of individual relationships” in building union power. They also said that they realized “they were already involved” in their locals, and generally felt more motivated and better equipped to find ways to participate that are both effective and right for them.
Were you unable to make it to the New Member Program or Basic Bargaining this year? Don’t worry – we have more events coming up! Keep an eye out for information on our Early Career Educators Conference happening this fall – a one day event full of different opportunities to learn and connect with other new educators.