TELLING THE ASSOCIATION STORY
Many of our members today have not personally experienced the power of collective action. From time to time someone tells them a war story – a strike in ‘78 or a fiscal crises and lay-offs in ‘80 – a story about the good old days.
Invite your veteran or retired members to tell their stories in ways that are concise, accurate, and relate to changing times, changing needs, and today’s education professional.
That telling could take a variety of forms:
• A page on your website with snazzy graphics and links to relevant documents (e.g. the local contract) to the association and other education organizations (e.g. NJEA and the State Department of Education) and to classroom and professional resources (e.g. The Association of Curriculum and Development, etc.).
• An interactive website or Facebook page.
• A flier with graphics, pictures, and quotations.
• A narrative created to stand alone or be part of a local association guide for new members.
• A series of vignettes in the local association newsletter.
• An add-on to an existing association service or project that metes out information in bite-sized pieces.
Whatever the vehicle, there is information that is important to convey whether your local is in a sleepy hamlet and has never filed a grievance or has 1000 members and a history of job actions. Either way, or in between, it stands to reason that each and every potential new member expects to know what they are buying into when they sign that membership card or the authorization for dues to be deducted from their paychecks.
As your veteran or retired members tell their stories, stress the value of membership.
• Cite a few major gains achieved at the local, state, and national levels.
• Stress local issues and achievements whenever possible.
Your association is the unparalleled primary advocate for quality education, students, education employees, and the future of public education. The association is undoubtedly primarily responsible for positive gains for public education realized by employees over the last several decades. These resulted in fair negotiations processes, effective lobbying efforts at the state level, and also from association efforts that have saved and increased federal and state funding for public education. Each of these achievements has a direct impact on education and education employees at the local level.
• Stress that your association has the necessary effective structures at all levels to provide needed services and representation to members. The entire structure serves each individual member and education as a whole.
• Take a strong, positive position on the various levels of your association. Let everyone know that, “In our local, WE are the NJEA, the county education association, and the NEA.”
• Let potential members know that your association is among the most democratic organizations in the world. The individuals we elect to represent us at every level determine the association’s policies and positions.
• Provide answers to any important local issues that arise.
• Consider telling stories. Don’t start with, “back in 1966 . . .” Create personal stories told from the point of view of certified staff and ESP members.
Field Representative ~ Membership & Organizational Development
New Jersey Education Association