California Educator

June/July 2021

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Continued from Page 30 RENAISSANCE extreme when the pandemic hit, when it should have brought more collaboration. After years of disappointment, it felt like something was different this time — edu- cators crowded the organizing meetings held via Zoom. "A lot of things have been really affirm- ing this year. I feel like I've been charged u p ," Ha n n a h s ay s of E BEU 's u n i ty i n purpose. "It's been a really wonderful experience to sit down and say ' What do you need as an educator?' and know those things are going to make the experience better for our students." Since its formation, EBEU was formally recognized by LPS and created a bargaining team, which has held forums to develop priorities for their first contract. "It's so exciting to go from an idea to a bargaining team," Marshall-Buselt exclaims. " We did it! We're doing it!" Hannah says it's been a rewarding experience to organize successfully and join the CTA family. "No one gave up on us. It's been seven years and it finally hap- pened. I feel grateful that CTA was there to support and walk us through the process." is sentiment is shared by the 43 educators at Syc- amore Academy of Science and Cultural Arts (SASCA), who started organizing at sites in Wildomar and Chino last September and subsequently voted to affiliate with Lake Elsinore Teachers Association (LETA). SASCA educator and LETA member Wendy Lizardi had previously reached out to CTA about forming a union, and after COVID hit, it was obvious that the time was now, she says. "e pandemic was the tipping point. e benefits of having a union outweighed everything else," says Lizardi, a TK-1 teacher. "We could see it wasn't going to get better on its own." SASCA educator Beth Wilson says CTA staff guided educators through the organizing process, identifying potential roadblocks and providing much-needed support. "CTA is a well-oiled machine. ey know exactly what they're doing and they're going to support us 100 percent," says Wilson, also a LETA member. "It made it so much easier to get through all of this." Lizardi says educators wanted to have a voice and no longer be at-will employees. She hopes the union will be able to bring back the collaborative culture that made the school strong. "We just want it to be a happy workplace for everyone," she says. "Every year, I think it can't get worse, and then I come in and get so frustrated. We're tired of being treated certain ways, and we did it together." Frost at High Tech High says the union is a vehicle for positive change, a common theme for all these new educators unions. "We all love our schools. I wouldn't put all this effort into orga- nizing if I didn't love where I work." Beth Wilson and Wendy Lizardi are two of 43 Sycamore Academy of Science and Cultural Arts educators, who voted to affiliate with Lake Elsinore Teachers Association. 32 Feature Educators at Leadership Public Schools in Oakland hold a sympathy strike in 2019 in support of the Oakland Education Association strike — an experience they called "transformational."

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