We unanimously decided that my continued membership in UTW was more than important.
I chose to join UTW when I began my first year of teaching, nine years ago. My dad had been a union member as I was growing up and it was important to him. Being part of the union was one of our family’s values. As an adult, I continue to witness the benefits of collective bargaining for union members in this school district.
When my husband’s job was downsized a number of years ago, we had to look at our finances and make decisions on where to cut back. We talked about every household expense and payroll deduction. We unanimously decided that my continued membership in UTW was more than important. We felt like the privatization of many public institutions was threatening the security of teachers and affecting the quality of our own child’s public school education. Continuing to support the efforts for representation of teachers was imperative.
I remain committed to public education and encourage others to stand up and be counted as union members.Gifted Educator at Price Harris Communications Magnet
...The point of all this is, I owe my career to the union...
“As an education major in college I was a student member of the NEA. I attended New Teacher Orientation in USD 259 and received a free lunch and invitation to join from the union staff. Several members made appointments with me to meet me at my new school and discuss the benefits of union membership with me. I joined sometime within the first month of my career. I thought it was the professional thing to do.
A few months after that, my principal asked me to attend an overnight activity with fifth and sixth graders which would have obviously violated my contract. I was assured by union staff that I did not have to attend and made some excuse to not attend the activity. Little did I know that only a couple of weeks after that, I had a formal evaluation and lo and behold, I was being recommended for non-renewal.
I was devastated. I had worked for four years and spent thousands of dollars to earn this degree and now it was being taken from me. I called the union office and they offered a plethora of encouragement and advice. First they informed me that I had a right to compose a rebuttal to my evaluation and tell “my side of the story.” They helped me frame it in a professional manner but focused on the lack of leadership that had been provided to me. They came out to observe me teach, model lessons, and coach me to a higher level of proficiency in my new career.
Things worked out well. I had to jump through some hoops to prove my abilities, and I ended up working at that same building, with the same principal, for 15 years! After that first year I became the building Pro-Rep. Since that time I have served on the union’s executive board, negotiations teams, membership committee and even worked an election to switch our bargaining unit to AFT from NEA, before the merger.
The point of all this is, I owe my career to the union, but I also became a part of the union. The power shifted to me, and I took control of my own professionalism. That sense of power was backed by local staff and the national affiliates. The power grew as I got to know what the contract says and understand what it means. I wasn’t just a name on a list, but I got to know the staff and they got to know me.
Be informed—read the e-mails and literature and Facebook posts from UTW. Be involved-- attend a pro-rep meeting, volunteer for a special project, help out with site organizing at your building, or ask a non-member to join. If all of us could do one of those things we will be well on our way to truly being the United Teachers of Wichita.”Librarian at Black Traditional Magnet Elementary
...I’m proud to be a public school teacher & proud to be a part of UTW...
“For me, UTW represents security and unity in a profession that policymakers continue to degrade and attack. I’m proud to be a public school teacher, and I’m proud to be a part of UTW, a professional organization that represents the best aspects of what it means to be a professional educator of young people.”IB World Lit and AP Lit Instructor, English Dept. Co-Chair, Wichita High School East
...The UTW gives teachers a voice in their school and community...
“I believe it is important to be a UTW member because it helps keep teachers informed about national, state, and local educational issues. The UTW gives teachers a voice in their school and community. The UTW helps give teachers a stable platform from which to teach, especially when supporters and critics pull the profession in different directions. And the UTW can help teachers find answers, whether good or bad, so that they can work in a clean, fair, exciting, and rewarding environment.”LA Northwest