Thank you for all that you do for our members and students. Education is indeed a calling. Whether you are driving students on a bus, feeding students in the cafeteria, working on student paperwork on a computer, cleaning student areas to keep us all safe, teaching elementary, middle, or high school students, helping students who experience developmental delay, protecting students as a nurse or resource officer, guiding students as a social worker or guidance counselor, everyone’s role in public education is important. Educators are essential.
My mother, my wife, our younger daughter, and I are all educators. It is a noble profession. Unless people have educators in their family, they might not understand. The long hours. The often low pay, especially when we start out, but sometimes throughout our entire careers. As bad as things often are, could you imagine how much worse they would be if we weren’t part of a union? Talk to educators who worked in states with no strong union or in charter schools in Ohio. They will tell you how bad it could get if we don’t all do our part in our union.
The Ohio Education Association is 175 years old. And the North Central Ohio Education Association has been an OEA district for over 50 years. In that time, there have always been struggles and challenges. Retired educators have union stories about being roughed up on a picket line by hired thugs, about being arrested for going on strike, and about finally winning collective bargaining rights in the 1980s. If you were an OEA member over ten years ago, you may have stories of your own about the Senate Bill 5 fight to protect our collective bargaining rights. Of being locked out of the statehouse or marching in the cold. Many SB 5 protests were cold. Maybe you gathered signatures to put an SB 5 referendum on the ballot. Maybe you canvassed door-to-door or made phone calls to turn out our vote. Maybe you are just now learning about SB 5 for the first time. Again, talk to the educators who fought that fight. They know the value of collective bargaining, the value of participating in our union.
Many hands make light work. Get more involved in your local union and in NCOEA. Our state’s 60% vote overturning SB 5 and restoring our collective bargaining rights proves that together we can do amazing things that we cannot do on our own. Together, we must elect pro-public education candidates from both political parties. Together, we must hold politicians accountable for funding and policies that benefit our students and members. Together we can make our unions, our communities, and our nation stronger and better for this generation and the next ones.