Successful community and union organizers know that getting members excited and involved in the issues and causes that affect them is the key to a stronger and more influential organization. That’s the thinking behind MSEA’s new Innovative Engagement and Organizing Grants—a funding program to support local associations and their members to become stronger and more influential at school, at county council and board of ed meetings, and on the issues that matter most.
It’s a member-driven program with grants awarded to creative ideas that address the specific organizing needs of a local association. “We were faced with possible disaffiliation from MSEA and NEA when a small group of disgruntled members decided they could go it alone and run WCEA as an independent small business,” explains grantee Stephanie Lewis. “They brought in the Center for Independent Employees, an organization notorious for destroying unions and collective bargaining. Against all odds, we mobilized to save our association for current and future educators.
“We applied for the grant to build the power and influence of WCEA. We want to help our members renew their engagement and commitment and to become better informed about the power, professional support, and resources available to them through a strong WCEA/MSEA/NEA.
“After such a difficult year, it was important that we all come together. We hosted an all-member Back-to-School Bash where new and veteran members could meet their leadership, ask questions, and share concerns.
“Next, we’re taking our organizing and mobilizing message to schools, holding representative assembly meetings across the county to meet more of our WCEA members and answer their questions. There’s a training component, too, where we’ll work on building a stronger member-driven association that will help deliver the support and resources that Wicomico’s educators and students need.”