Do you love politics? Are you interested in influencing the officials who make the decisions that affect your job? The NJEA Government Relations Division has the perfect program for you: the County Legislative Action Team, or LAT. And this year, the program is being expanded so that any member who wants to take part in politics can join.
Currently, every county association has an LAT, which organizes members for legislative and political action. Members of the NJEA Government Relations Committee and Congressional Contact Committee work with an NJEA lobbyist, the county association, and UniServ staff to inform LAT members about legislative, political and regulatory goals at the state and federal levels, as well as issues at the local and county association levels. LAT members bring this information back to their local associations, where members take action. This can include contacting elected or appointed officials, recruiting volunteers to work on campaigns, attending lobby days at the Legislature or the State Board of Education, and meeting with legislators.
As a result of the LAT structure, many NJEA members have developed relationships with elected officials and become involved in campaigns. LAT members have played an important role in moving the regulatory, political and legislative program of the NJEA and the NEA forward. LAT members inundate legislators with phone calls and emails when bad bills are moving; they attend State Board lobby days and write letters to the board members to influence regulatory changes; and they help pro-public education candidates get elected by working on campaigns.
However, joining an LAT has been limited in two ways. First, LAT members are appointed by their local president. While it is important for each local to have an individual representative to the county LAT, more participants from each local would mean more people have the opportunity to develop relationships with elected and appointed officials, hear from party leaders, and meet endorsed candidates. Second, membership in LATs is limited to the county where people work. Those who live in one county and work in a different county miss the opportunity to influence officials where they vote.
Because NJEA members asked about expanding the LAT program beyond these limits, the Government Relations Division has created the Associate LAT program. This program allows all NJEA members who want to become involved in campaigns and politics to go to LAT meetings either where they work, where they live, or both. Stop by the Government Relations booth on Main Street NJEA at the NJEA Convention, or look for the postcard you’ll be receiving at the end of this month to find out how to join an LAT.
Everything about your job and your day—your salary and benefits, the amount of time you work, maybe even what you can eat at lunch (if your district has a peanut-free policy)—is determined by elected officials, or the appointed officials they choose.
Shouldn’t you be involved in politics?
Visit njea.org/LAT to learn more.